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Film Info
  • Year: 2018
  • Film Format: DCP, Blu-ray and DVD
  • Origin: Canada
  • Runtime: 107 mins
  • Color
  • Language: English

Coming at a moment of profound political and social crisis, What Is Democracy? reflects on a word we too often take for granted.

Director Astra Taylor’s idiosyncratic, philosophical journey spans millennia and continents: from ancient Athens’ groundbreaking experiment in self-government to capitalism’s roots in medieval Italy; from modern-day Greece grappling with financial collapse and a mounting refugee crisis to the United States reckoning with its racist past and the growing gap between rich and poor.

Featuring a diverse cast—including celebrated theorists, trauma surgeons, activists, factory workers, asylum seekers, and former prime ministers—this urgent film connects the past and the present, the emotional and the intellectual, the personal and the political, in order to provoke and inspire. If we want to live in democracy, we must first ask what the word even means.

From the director of Zizek! and Examined Life!

A Zeitgeist Films release in association with Kino Lorber. To book this film please contact Nancy Gerstman or Emily Russo or call 212-274-1989.

Astra Taylor

Astra Taylor is a filmmaker, writer, and political organizer. She is the director of the philosophical documentaries What Is Democracy?, Examined Life and Zizek!; the author of the American Book Award winner The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age; and a co-founder of the Debt Collective. She has written for The New York TimesThe London Review of BooksThe GuardianThe WalrusThe Bafflern+1, and many other outlets. She is a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and a former touring member of the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Her new book, Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, will be out from Metropolitan Books in early 2019.

Photo by Deborah Degraffenried.

Photos

Playdates

Venue City State Date
Boston University, Political Science Dept. Boston MA October 24, 2018
Pembroke Center Providence RI October 25, 2018
Film Scene Iowa City IA October 28, 2018
Lake Placid Film Festival Lake Placid NY October 28, 2018
Columbia University-School of the Arts New York NY November 1, 2018
Hollywood Theatre Portland OR November 25, 2018
JCC of Manhattan New York NY January 8, 2019
IFC Center New York NY Opens January 16 2019
City Arts & Lectures San Francisco CA February 28, 2019