Article published: Friday, July 10th 2015
“The rallies followed the sun – from the South Pacific and beyond.” Director Amir Amirani’s stirring documentary We Are Many (2014) about February 15th 2003, the day that the world joined hands and took to the streets to march against the imminent invasion of Iraq, offers a rousing and timely antidote to post-election apathy and despondence.
We Are Many took eight years and two re-mortgages to bring to the screen. It is an ambitious and far-reaching film teeming with drama and emotion. But Amirani had faced a difficult task from the outset of making the documentary: in spite of the largest international demonstration in history, bombs still rained down on Baghdad just thirty-three days later. Iraq is a country disintegrated. It is estimated that 600,000 civilians were killed, 1.25 million children orphaned, and 4 million people forced into refuge.
Yet We Are Many, a film that condemns deceptive governance and recalls the suffering of an entire nation, succeeds as a beacon of faith in people power. The thirty million people, who mobilised in almost eight hundred cities around the globe, inspired a flourishing of organization and aspiration.
The Stop the War Coalition would prompt a surge in global dissent: Egyptian activists recall observing the powerful energy of shared civil resistance and less than a decade later Hosni Mubarak would be overthrown. Amirani, with the help of an eclectic ensemble of characters, places the march in its fuller context and underlines its lasting legacy. It was, as the late Tony Benn said, “the future of humanity.”
From the tears of Stephen Hawking to Robin Cooke’s impassioned resignation speech in the House of Commons, the forebodings of the great and the good are chronicled. A burning light is shone on the greatest deception of our time and the hollow core of our political democracy is denounced. We Are Many speaks with power – a documentary that joins the dots like an epic-saga into a patchwork of authentic and angry voices.
For a generation engaged in frustrated struggle, Amirani’s film provides hope. The preservation of a movement’s history and acclaim for its feats are crucial – a thirst for reality, for examples that inspire and rouse, can be quenched. The legacy of the millions who marched on that day has been sealed – it is for all to inherit.
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