The Visual and Media Arts screening series “Bright Lights” kicked off a new year this past Tuesday with American Autumn, a comprehensive documentary covering the Occupy movement from its beginnings to what the future holds. Director Dennis Trainor Jr. and Boston Phoenix reporter Chris Faraone joined Emerson students in the Bright Family Screening Room for the screening and participated in a panel discussion about their personal experiences with the movement.
The film takes an inside look at the launch and subsequent explosion of the “99 percent,” the everyday people who peacefully protested against the 1 percent of Americans who hold the vast majority of wealth in the country. The story is told from the perspective of those involved. Viewers are given an inside look at some of the extensive planning for demonstrations, a critical breakdown of the 99 percent versus the 1 percent on Wall Street, and an examination of American police brutality throughout the protests.
More than anything, this Occudoc captures a unique moment in American history. The Occupiers’ spirit is represented in a way the general public never saw through the lens of media outlets, and Trainor puts himself in the role of everyman to move the film forward. He took months of footage from New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston encampments, interviewing several of the movement’s most important members, in addition to the many everyday people who took up the cause when Occupy exploded into public consciousness in 2011. The film features original music from indie group Fugazi.
The film has already been lauded by the movement itself as well as by festivals such as the Unspoken Human Rights Film Festival, the Orlando Film Festival, and the Twin Cities Film Fest.
Following the screening, Trainor shared his journey from acting major to political filmmaker and his personal motivation for making the film. Journalist Faraone shared a similar history, beginning with his columns in the Boston Phoenix regarding the distribution of wealth in America into the encampments, which he still frequents many months after large-scale media coverage has ended. “It’s still going on,” Trainor asserted, regaling the audience with the plight of current campers who still fight a daily battle with the media and police forces.
“I was just there last night,” Faraone nods, speaking of his not-so-pleasant encounters with the force. “Those die-hard Occupiers are still out there.” The audience enjoyed a half-hour discussion on both American Autumn and the current state of the Occupy movement, leaving all with food for thought and a strong start to the Bright Lights screening series.