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The anti-war documentary We Are Many is a kind of double throwback. On the one hand, this 2014 British production is only now opening in Canada, six years after it was shot. But the subject matter is older still; the march against the impending Iraq War that took place in more than 600 cities around the world on Feb. 15, 2003.
The fact that the United States, Britain and their allies went ahead with the invasion barely a month later doesn’t dampen the spirits of the protestors and activists interviewed by director Amir Amirani. In fact, they argue that the scale of the protests – the New York Times declared worldwide public opinion a new superpower – helped future demonstrators make greater gains, and may even have kick-started the Arab Spring revolts of the early 2010s.
The film also functions as a reminder of what feels like another age in geopolitics. We see how British Prime Minister Tony Blair ignored advice from his Attorney General that the war might not be legal. And we watch President George W. Bush joking during a correspondents’ dinner in 2004 about his failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Even a decade and a half later, the outrage it stirs is palpable.
The British focus of the doc means that many of the commentators are specific to that country, including author John Le Carré, actor Mark Rylance and filmmaker Ken Loach. There is some footage of the Toronto demonstrations that were part of the 2003 event, although even more startling are the shots of scientists at McMurdo base in Antarctica joining in. One of the antipodal protestors notes that he lost his job over his participation, but adds he wouldn’t change a thing. And as someone else notes, having the protest spread to Antarctica was like hearing that it had reached Mars.
We Are Many opens Sept. 25 at the Nelson B.C. drive-in, the Rio in Vancouver and virtually through the Metro Edmonton, with other locations to follow.
3 stars out of 5
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020