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Other American Voices
A Film by Corinna Belz and Neil Hollander
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film stillOTHER AMERICAN VOICES captures the change in the political mood in the United States after the attack of September 11, 2001.

It seems that the whole country has rallied around George W. Bush. But what has become of the various strands of opposition in the United States, that checkered mix of intellectuals, activists, artists, unions and NGOs, which, prior to the attack, leveled vehement criticism at the Bush Administration's domestic and foreign policies?

Interviews with Noam Chomsky, Richard Deats, Katrina van den Heuvel (editor-in-chief of The Nation), Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Asif Ulla (spokesman for the War Resisters League) and others create a portrait of a country - with its proud tradition of dissent - that cannot seem to tolerate any critique of the U.S. response to the attack.

The fear of a new McCarthy era runs through the conversations, triggered by the growing volume of legislation, such as the "Patriot Act," which undermines fundamental rights and civil liberties. The "war against terror" is being pursued in the name of the liberty, yet ultimately also seems to threaten liberty itself.

"As a US citizen I believe OTHER AMERICAN VOICES is a tremendous contribution to social history and the political discourse as well. As a writer on topics relating to art, science, and technology, this tape reminded me of the close links between art and politics. [The] tension between the need to ask questions and the script's focus on a particular point of view that allows the tape to fulfill a function often associated with art: stirring our emotions and presenting complex points of view in a way that allows us to wrestle with a larger picture. In this case, given the current mood in the States, Belz and Hollander do us a service in bringing together views that are being drowned elsewhere. Thus this video accentuates what art can do and why, I believe, political statements by artists are increasingly important in our world today.

"OTHER AMERICAN VOICES captures the shock of the World Trade Center attack, the humanity of those who cleared the rubble, and the voices of some who understand that liberty and freedom only exist when people speak out. It is a tape that is important today in light of the move to stifle critics. It should be shown in high school and college classroom. Years from now, moreover, this kind of documentation will provide future generations with the words of those who saw other paths were available. America prides itself on its tradition of dissent and, from this perspective, this film's criticism of the domestic and foreign policies of George W. Bush celebrate this nation's identity."
—Amy Ione, The Diatrope Institute, for Leonardo Digital Reviews

"Highly Recommended! If you believe that democracy flourishes only when all points of view are freely expressed, then OTHER AMERICAN VOICES provides a much-needed response from the liberal and dissident side of the spectrum of American political discourse to the conservative and mainstream ideology that has dominated the media and the political process in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001. The technical quality of the program is excellent. The material is very current [and] is appropriate for all age groups over Junior High school level and, by providing a perspective that is not generally represented in the mainstream media, would be useful in presenting information directly or in eliciting class discussion."—Educational Media Reviews Online

"The combination of intelligent interviews and quiet moments merges into a thoughtful documentary on contemporary U.S. politics... [The film's participants] are patriotic to American ideals and fundamentals of the Constitution. The ability to dissent, and to check and challenge government power, fall within the Jeffersonian tradition and is the highest form of patriotism."—Pop Politics

"Recommended. The interviews took place before the war in Iraq, but the issues they raise still resonate, specifically the perception of the United States as becoming less hospitable to dissent and opposing viewpoints. The footage of Ground Zero includes many views of the cleanup project that did not get any major media coverage and are somber and stark rather than graphic and sensational."—Library Journal

2002 Leipzig International Documentary Film Festival

52 minutes / Color
Release: 2003
Copyright: 2002

Subject areas:
American Studies, Civil Rights, Communications, Journalism, Law, Media Studies, Political Science, Social Movements

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