What is Democracy?, Dir. Astra Taylor, Canada, 2018, 107 mins, English
This London Premiere is followed by a discussion between director Astra Taylor and anthropologist David Graeber, hosted by Charlie Phillips, head of documentaries at the Guardian.
Astra Taylor’s idiosyncratic, philosophical journey spans millennia and continents to deliver an analysis of democracy on a collision course with capitalism. From ancient Athens’ groundbreaking experiment in self-government and capitalism’s roots in medieval Italy, to contemporary Greece grappling with financial collapse and a mounting refugee crisis, and the United States reckoning with rampant racism and growing income inequality, What Is Democracy? confronts today’s profound political and social crises.
American political theorist Wendy Brown, charismatic philosopher and political activist Cornel West and groundbreaking feminist scholar Silvia Federici are the public intellectuals whose thought anchors the film. Featuring a diverse cast—including trauma surgeons, activists, factory workers, asylum seekers and former prime ministers—this urgent work posits that, contrary to popular belief, democracy is less about freedom and more a commitment to collectivity.