CULTURES OF RESISTANCE — directed by iara lee (Cultures of Resistance Films)

Does each gesture really make a difference? Can music and dance be weapons of peace? In 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war, director iara lee embarked on a journey to better understand a world increasingly embroiled in conflict and, as she saw it, heading for self-destruction. After several years, traveling over five continents, iara encountered growing numbers of people who committed their lives to promoting change. This is their story. From IRAN, where graffiti and rap became tools in fighting government repression, to BURMA, where monks acting in the tradition of Gandhi take on a dictatorship, moving on to BRAZIL, where musicians reach out to slum kids and transform guns into guitars, and ending in PALESTINIAN refugee camps in LEBANON, where photography, music, and film have given a voice to those rarely heard, CULTURES OF RESISTANCE explores how art and creativity can be ammunition in the battle for peace and justice.
Featuring: Medellín poets for peace, Capoeira masters from Brazil, Niger Delta militants, Iranian graffiti artists, women’s movement leaders in Rwanda, Lebanon’s refugee filmmakers, U.S. political pranksters, indigenous Kayapó activists from the Xingu River, Israeli dissidents, hip-hop artists from Palestine, and many more…
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The Power of Nonviolence — A Statement by Director iara lee

“The Cultures of Resistance (CoR) feature documentary profiles conflicts in over 10 countries—including Israel/Palestine, Nigeria, and Burma—with a focus on how artists and musicians creatively oppose various forms of oppression. As both a filmmaker and an activist, I believe that nonviolent resistance is the only effective, long-term approach to conflict resolution. Nonviolence does not mean passivity. In fact, strategic nonviolence is often militant, active, and requires its practitioners to put themselves on the line. It uses unarmed resistance to create a crisis that undermines the viability of violence and oppression.”In the film, I try to explore the challenge of violence; I show situations where victims of injustice resort to violence in order to address their grievances. While I can sympathize with the deep frustration and legitimate indignation that motivates such action, I do not endorse their approach. I ultimately believe that artistic resistance combined with active nonviolence, as advocated by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., is the only way to break the cycles of militarism and oppression upon which so many of the world’s injustices depend.”When combating a massive military machine that profits from the creation of militarized conflict, choosing the path of armed resistance plays into our opponents’ strengths. I hope to show in my work that our strengths–the strengths of forces promoting democracy, human rights, and economic justice–are based in art, creativity, and grassroots participation in nonviolent social movements.”

Take Action!

Our sister foundation, the Cultures of Resistance Network, was set up by director iara lee to support the work of the artists and campaigns who appear in the Cultures of Resistance films. To go to that organization’s website, click here.
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