“99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film” @ 2013 Sundance Film Festival
Here’s a good story for you: I recently ran into one of my friends’ son Ari Ress at the supermarket (like you do), and when I asked him what he had been up to, he told me this great story, and I wanted to share it with you all. As a side note, when Ari finished college a few years back, he came back to NY (his mum and I live on the same block) and he said he wanted to get into photography. So I hooked him up with my buddy Tony Cordoza, whom Ari then worked with for a couple of years… fast forward to 2011 and this is what Ari has been up to of late!
“Back in 2011 I was one of the recently graduated unemployed with a camera and some skills going to waste. One night about 300 people ran screaming down the street by my apartment, so I grabbed my camera and headed out. The group was funneled into Zuccotti Park where occupiers had been living for about a week. I didn’t know anything about OWS (Occupy Wall Street) prior to that night, but as things heated up I began to go down to the park regularly to shoot photos and interview people who had been arrested to put up on Facebook and Youtube.
On October 1st I went down to cover what I had heard was going to be a huge march across the Brooklyn Bridge. Marchers were told it was OK to walk on the lower level as long as there was one lane kept open for cars to get by and I followed them for a while before realizing I’d get better shots from above and climbed up to the pedestrian walkway. About 100 feet later the march was met by a line of police (see photo) and was penned in from behind as well. Twenty feet below me hundreds of people were forcefully pulled from the crowd, thrown on the ground and subdued by at least 6 officers, cuffed and then either lead or carried off to await the prison buses.
Meanwhile in Brooklyn filmmakers Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites were watching this scene via an occupier’s webcast. When the caster’s battery died they were shocked that one of the largest mass arrests in the history of the country was not being covered by any news station. They decided to make a documentary on the movement – how it began, how it progressed, how it spread – in the collaborative fashion of the movement itself. After reading about them I got in touch. They were very happy to make me a part of the film; My footage and my research and social networking abilities were put to good use.
Then came the incredible news: Sundance was giving us a grant. Not only did this help us with tremendously needed funds, but “99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film” Premiered at the 2013 Sundance Festival. It was my first time seeing the film and it was amazing to see something I had helped create come together and become something so great. Now the film has been picked up by Participant Media. It just goes to show you that no matter where you are, no matter what else is going on, keep that camera handy: you never know where it will take you!”