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Gravity Hill Newsreels: Occupy Wall Street

Jem Cohen | 2011 | 01:05:14 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video

Video Details
Jem Cohen | 2011 | 01:05:14 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video

Gravity Hill Newsreels: Occupy Wall Street comprises Jem Cohen’s twelve-part series as a continuous and complete compilation.

To acknowledge the ten-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street Movement in connection with an important history of political documentation by filmmakers, we are highlighting the work of Jem Cohen in this newest VDB TV program by making his Gravity Hill Newsreels: Occupy Wall Street twelve-part series available for continuous and complete viewing in a singular compilation. 

Cohen, who witnessed the New York occupation from day one, borrowed a digital camera and started gathering footage in subsequent weeks. Initially acting upon an instinctive impulse to document and be guided by the events of the movement through quiet participation, Cohen’s documentation took a more public and expansive form through an agreement with the IFC Center, a local movie theater. In a nod to the once prevalent practice of screening newsreels in theaters before showtimes, a number of Cohen’s Newsreels were activated there as the events of the movement played out nearby, connecting immediate political documentation with the public sphere. The series approaches the events during the Occupy Wall Street Movement through an observational but atmospheric perspective, documenting the stir within the streets and Zuccotti Park, collective actions, police intervention and the sheer presence of the occupation which lasted fifty-four days. The first shorts depict the Occupy Wall Street Global Day of Action at Times Square; others cover wide ranging, external mass actions such as a rally and march across the Brooklyn Bridge, but most focus on the rapidly changing encampment itself. Soundtracks were created with Guy Picciotto (Fugazi).

Occupy Wall Street served as a testing-ground movement for a rising American consciousness around wealth inequality and corporate exploitation after the financial crisis of 2008. Cohen’s newsreels provide an intimate form of historical and political documentation that gives their subject breathing room, a looking and listening practice of sorts. In dedication to the likes of Agnès Varda, Patricio Guzmán, Chris Marker and other important filmmakers documenting the history of political struggle, Cohen’s work in retrospect takes on a similar role with its documentation of a significant political moment of collective action ripe for reflection in current times.

Featured Titles

Gravity Hill Newsreels: Occupy Wall Street, Jem Cohen

Gravity Hill Newsreels: Occupy Wall Street comprises Jem Cohen’s twelve-part series as a continuous and complete compilation. Cohen, who witnessed the New York occupation from day one, borrowed a digital camera and started gathering footage in subsequent weeks. Initially acting upon an instinctive impulse to document and be guided by the events of the movement through quiet participation, Cohen’s documentation took a more public and expansive form through an agreement with the IFC Center, a local movie theater.