Dissent Poem
Dissent Poem
Dissent Poem

Dissent Poem

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    • Directed by: Brenda Davis
    • Released: 2024 (educational)
    • Year of Production: 2022
Running Time: 22 min
Language: English
Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions
Subjects:  US Studies, Urban Spaces and Systems

On January 20, 2017, over 200 protesters were arrested and charged with multiple felonies for expressing opposition to the election of Donald Trump. In “Dissent Poem”, an anonymous young protester, The Narrator, recounts the protest and trials of what became known as J20, reflecting on how the trial set a precedent for government surveillance and control, anarchism as a practice of freedom, and how people from diverse ideological perspectives can learn valuable lessons from the arrests and aftermath.

A collage of footage drawn from various sources documenting the protest as well as animated visuals illustrate The Narrator’s interview, engaging viewers to question the criminalization of dissent in the face of a growing fascist threat. The in-situ footage functions as an emotionally visceral visual testament to the truth of The Narrator’s story, which they tell from the perspective of a protester and J20 defendant.

The Narrator is a compelling subject who presents complex ideas in an engaging way, including questions about what is called violence in a time of increasingly excessive state violence. As The Narrator says, “violence is a term that is relative to who gets to use power and who has power used against them.” Other ideas examined in the film include the rise of racism, fascism, and xenophobia, anti-capitalism, anti fascist protests and the practices of anarchy.

The Narrator’s reflections on the arrest, detainment, and lawsuit demonstrate why these charges should be important to everyone. In The Narrator’s words “Regardless of what you think of what happened on January 20th, there is something beautiful about
believing in something enough to risk your freedom.” This film is a call to question the
criminalization of dissent in the face of a growing fascist threat, and an invitation to
imagine new creative forms of resistance.


About the filmmaker 


Brenda Davis produced and directed the documentary SISTER, which is distributed by Journeyman Pictures UK. SISTER was released on iTunes and Amazon in June 2014 and is part of ITVS International Women and Girls Lead Global Programming. SISTER premiered at the Montreal World Film Festival in August 2012, followed by Take One Action Film Festival, Reykjavik International Documentary Film Festival, African Diaspora Film Festival in NYC, Cambodia International Film Festival, One World Documentary Film Festival, Doxa Documentary Film Festival, Kyrgyzstan International Documentary Human Rights Film Festival, Bulgaria One World Echoes Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Stockholm One World Echoes Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Manya Human Rights International Film Festival, among other and is still playing at film festivals globally, including recently opening the Addis International Film Festival in June 2014. SISTER was a 2011 Independent Filmmakers Project (IFP) Lab Film.


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