Review: In ’99%,’ the Occupy movement states its case

‘99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film’
A scene from “99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film.”

More than 100 contributing filmmakers and “newcomers” — including nine credited directors or co-directors — plus a passel of editors joined forces to create “99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film,” an experimental documentary that spotlights the international social justice movement that began in September 2011 as a reaction to, among other things, income inequality and corporate personhood.

Conceived and coordinated by the project’s “founding directors” Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites, the movie purposefully mirrors the Occupy movement’s chaotic yet energetic vibe. The result is a captivating mélange that combines you-are-there footage from Occupy rallies in New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere with archival news footage and frank commentary from authors, journalists, professors and activists.

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Despite the film’s kaleidoscopic spirit, it presents an effective timeline of the Occupiers’ first year while painting a vivid and multi-tentacled picture of the long-gestating forces — historical, economic, social and political — that incited these passionate and, for some, divisive protests (examples of overly aggressive police response are aptly disturbing).


What can’t help but hang over the whole enterprise, however, is the widely — and often incorrectly — promulgated notion that the Occupy movement quickly lost steam, lacked a clear vision and betrayed its peaceful foundations. To that end, the movie asserts that Occupy provided “a huge ray of hope” and credibly posits that its long-term effects may have yet to be seen. Either way, this gripping, innovatively constructed flashback commands attention.


“99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film”

MPAA rating: R for language


Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Playing: ArcLight Cinemas, Hollywood

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