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What Is Democracy?

Astra Taylor
2018 | 107 min

Selections and Awards

  • Movie of the Week (Jan 11, 2019)Alliance of Women Film Journalists

  • Grand Jury Award NomineeSheffield Doc Fest 2018

  • Official Selection - TIFF DocsToronto International Film Festival 2018

  • Official SelectionVancouver International Film Festival 2018

  • Official Selection Victoria Film Festival 2019


Long Synopsis


Short Synopsis


Director's Statement

Trailer

Clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3

Clip 4 / Excerpt with Angela Davis

Promotional Materials

Featured Documentary Participants


Wendy Brown

Biography
Photo


Wendy Brown

Professor Brown’s fields of interest include the history of political theory, 19th- and 20th-century Continental theory, critical theory, and theories of contemporary capitalism. She is best known for intertwining the insights of Marx, Nietzsche, Weber, Freud, Frankfurt School theorists, Foucault, and contemporary Continental philosophers to critically interrogate formations of power, political identity, citizenship, and political subjectivity in contemporary liberal democracies. In recent years, her scholarship has focused on neoliberalism and the political formations to which it gives rise.


Angela Davis

Biography
Photo


Angela Davis

Angela Davis is a political activist and professor emeritus at the Department of History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is regarded as one of the foremost figures in the struggle for human rights and against racial discrimination. After graduating from Brandeis University in 1965, she decided to study philosophy at J.W. Goethe University in West Germany, where she first encountered Marxist thought.


Silvia Federici

Biography
Photo


Silvia Federici

Silvia Federici is a researcher, activist, and educator. She was born and raised in Italy but came to the US in 1967 on a scholarship to study Philosophy at the University of Buffalo. Since then, she has taught at several universities in the US and at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria. She is now Emerita Professor at Hofstra University (Long Island, NY) and lives in Brooklyn.


Zoe Konstantopoulou

Biography
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Zoe Konstantopoulou

Zoe Konstantopoulou is the leader of the Course to Freedom (Plefsi Eleftherias) political party and a former President of the Greek Parliament. She is also a lawyer and a member of the Athens and the New York bar associations, specializing in national, European, and international criminal law, public international law, and human rights. Zoe is active at an international level, with a wide range of activities and academic, political, and professional alliances around the globe.

 


Henry M. “Mickey” Michaux, Jr.

Biography
Photo


Henry M. “Mickey” Michaux, Jr.

In 1972, Durham native Henry M. “Mickey” Michaux, Jr. became Durham County’s first black representative in the North Carolina state legislature. He held office from 1973 to 1977, was elected again in 1983, and continues to serve as of 2018. He is the longest-serving member of the North Carolina House of Representatives and will retire at the end of this current term. In 1977, Michaux was appointed United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, becoming the first African-American in the South to head this office since Reconstruction.


Cornel West

Biography
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Cornel West

Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and holds the title of Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. West graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton. He has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.—a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

Images

Team


Astra Taylor
Filmmaker
Biography
Photo
Photo : Deborah Degraffenried


Astra Taylor

Astra Taylor is a filmmaker, writer, and political organizer. She is the director of the philosophical documentaries What Is Democracy?, Examined Life (TIFF 2008), and Zizek! (TIFF 2005); the author of the American Book Award winner The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age; and a co-founder of the Debt Collective. She has written for The New York Times, The London Review of Books, The Guardian, The Walrus, The Baffler, n+1, and many other outlets. She is a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and a former touring member of the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Her new book, Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, will be out from Metropolitan Books in early 2019.


Lea Marin
Producer
Biography
Photo
Photo : NFB


Lea Marin

Lea Marin is an award-winning Toronto-based producer with more than 18 years’ experience in the film and television industry. A graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s Producers’ Lab, Lea joined the National Film Board of Canada as a producer in 2006.

Her most recent film credits include Charles Officer’s Unarmed Verses, which won the  Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award at Hot Docs 2017 and the 2018 Canada’s Top Ten People’s Choice Award, in addition to being nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards; and  Picture This, directed by Jari Osborne, which screened at the Inside Out and OUTeast film festivals, winning Best Canadian Short and the Audience Award for Best Short at both festivals.

Other credits include My Prairie Home, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014 and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award; The Portrait, directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Hubert Davis; and Astra Taylor’s Examined Life, which launched at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008.

Lea recently completed production on Taylor’s follow-up to Examined Life, the feature doc What Is Democracy?, which will be released in 2018, and is currently in production on Throat, a co-collaboration between filmmaker Chelsea McMullan and artist/activist Tanya Tagaq.


Anita Lee
Executive Producer
Biography
Photo
Photo : NFB


Anita Lee

Anita Lee is Executive Producer and Head of Studio in Toronto for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) where she helms the programming and production of Ontario projects including Canadian and international co-productions, and forges key strategic partnerships. A multi-award-winning producer, Lee produced some of the most critically acclaimed works in NFB history, including Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, named Best Documentary Feature by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, and Best Canadian Film by the Toronto Film Critics Association. The Apology was awarded a Peabody in 2019 and a 2020 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Silver Baton. Recent projects as Executive Producer include: Stateless; The Book of Distance (Sundance 2020); This is not a Movie (TIFF 2019); What is Democracy (TIFF 2018); What Walaa Wants (Berlin 2018, Hot Docs Jury Prize Best Canadian Feature Documentary, TIFF Top Ten Film, CSA nominee for Best Feature Documentary); Unarmed Verses (Hot Docs 2017 Best Canadian Feature Documentary, TIFF Top Ten, CSA nomination for Best Feature Documentary); A Better Man (Hot Docs 2017, Doc NYC 2017) and Draw Me Close (Tribeca, Venice 2017).  Lee established NFB’s Creative Non-Fiction Immersive Lab which partnered with the CFC and Ford Foundation on Open ImmersionVR, Creative Doc VR Lab with National Theatre (UK), and Otherly, a non-fiction Instagram Stories Lab in partnership with POV Spark (PBS). Lee is the Founder /Advisory Chair of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Credits

The National Film Board of Canada presents
What is Democracy?
A National Film Board of Canada Production

Sound Recordist
Sanjay Mehta

Sound Design
David McCallum

Music By
Heather McIntosh

Director of Photography
Maya Bankovic

Editor
Robert Kennedy

Executive Producer
Anita Lee

Produced by
Lea Marin

Written and Directed by
Astra Taylor



Press Relations

  • About the NFB

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