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2009 An Interview with Michael Fox:Beyond Elections in the Americas

...In this interview, Michael Fox, Co-Producer (with Sílvia Leindecker) of Beyond Elections, talks about how the film was created, what its aims were and what the films impact has had among viewers in the US.

Benjamin Dangl: How did you decide on the focus and message of Beyond Elections?

Michael Fox: I’ve been living and working in Latin America for many years, studying and reporting on, above all else, the experiences in participatory democracy- cooperatives, communal councils, participatory budgeting, social movements, community radio, etc… Sílvia (my wife, who grew up in Southern Brazil, and who is also Co-director of the film) and I were living in Venezuela in 2006 when the communal councils law was passed, and local communities all across the country began to come together and take on this new form of organizing. You could see how it was empowering people on an individual and local level.

In March of 2007, Sílvia Leindecker and I found ourselves in Porto Alegre, Brazil – where we now live – at the same time that the 2007 Participatory Budgeting cycle was about to begin. We realized that although there have been many local videos on the experiences of participatory budgeting, cooperatives, social movements and even some on the recently-formed communal councils, there was no documentary film that tried to give both the big and local picture of these new participatory concepts of democracy across the hemisphere.

This concept is almost completely absent in the United States, and yet, it is absolutely necessarily for people to understand what is going on across Latin America, and also extremely important for activists and people in the United States to understand the failures of our own system and the lack of participation and input from everyday citizens.
We originally planned the film to focus only on participatory democracy, but quickly realized that the only people who would want to see it would be activists that are already doing this type of work. We needed to open it up to the very concept of democracy itself. MORE

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 1- Introduction

From Venezuela's Communal Councils, to Brazil's Participatory Budgeting; from Constitutional Assemblies to grassroots movements, recuperated factories to cooperatives across the hemisphere- This documentary is a journey, which takes us across the Americas, to attempt to answer one of the most important questions of our time: What is Democracy? WWW.BEYONDELECTIONS.COM

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 2 (Participatory Budgeting I)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 3 (Participatory Budgeting II)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 4 (Participatory Budgeting III)

Dude at the end talking about participatory budgeting in the USA ignores the obstacles of: the US idea of "being the best in the world" and thus don't need to learn anything from anyone attitude, well funded conservative think tanks US Chamber of Commerce and other organizations, class war to the point of hatred of the poor, and elevation of the middle class, well funded Fox News and elitist media, plus the demonization of anything that is not full-out capitalism, nevermind racism (can you imagine the screaming that a. its from a Latin American country b. the screaming when minority-majority states populations come out and the threatened white people get pissed...I can hear illegal immigration being used as a warcry right now), plus general leftwing uselessness and buyin to the status quo of elections and supporting the Dem party instead of organizing against the establishment as reasons why the fight in the US is gonna be hard as HELL if we actually want participatory budgeting here. I can hear Bill O Reilly and Rush Limbaugh already, nevermind the libertarians. Got to know what exactly you are up against so that you can plan for it. Also, the US does have a history of people organizing to get a bigger say in their government, its just been neatly hidden from the text books and corrupted to whats going on today on the conservative side.

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 5 (Venezuelan Communal Councils I)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 6 (Venezuelan Communal Councils II)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 7 (Venezuelan Communal Councils III)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 8 (Cooperatives I)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 9 (Cooperatives II)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 10 (Social Movements)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 11 (Constitutional Assemblies)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 12 (In the Name of Democracy I)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 13 (In the Name of Democracy II)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 14 (International Organizations)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 15 (Democratizing Democracy I)

Beyond Elections Documentary Part 16 (Democratizing Democracy II)

Review: Beyond Elections

Shot on location across South America, Beyond Elections is a powerful film that shows the sprawling poverty that wracks many cities in the Southern Hemisphere. Although sadly the film talks less about active struggles against the capitalism that has created such poverty, but does offer a glimpse into some of the daring grassroots reform movements that present interesting though at times politically questionable views. Herein the film’s title is a somewhat of a misnomer in the sense that, by going ‘beyond elections,’ the struggles profiled largely present the implication democracy is a matter of looking at existing political frameworks and using them in a different way rather than an expressly revolutionary fashion or one that sees the dominant systems as needing to go. As well, though less time is spent on the national elections issues that draw international corporate media, much of this documentary is concerned with how democracy plays out on a neighborhood level, which is in itself influenced by city and regional races for political office. MORE


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