Robyn Gee on Wednesday, Oct. 5th
The video above, directed by Alex Mallis and Lily Henderson, shows the state of the Occupy Wall Street movement on Day 18. Protesters have been in the streets for over two weeks, relentlessly demanding change in our economic system while camped out in both rain and shine. But the situation is far from chaotic.
We reached out to one of the directors of the film, Alex Mallis, an MFA candidate at Hunter College, who said he was curious about the protests, and eager to show his support. “I’m a filmmaker so naturally I wanted to share the experience with the medium I know, which is film and storytelling,” he said.
The footage he had seen of the protests left one hole in the story. “There was lots of material out there that expressed the rhetoric… people saying why they’re here, what they wanted to see happen. I thought that what was lacking was the story of the community it’s building,” he said.
“I wanted to show the micro-communities that are forming. The media is the message… [the message] comes under fire because there’s too much, [mainstream media] want to hear one thing. It’s important to understand that the movement is the message, the community is the message,” said Mallis.
As the video shows, while some protesters take on the yelling and the shouting, others support the movement by making the lives of protesters easier, so as to sustain the massive people presence.
For example, there is a comfort center that provides umbrellas, warm clothing, extra socks, and tarps for when it rains. There is a first-aid center that has received a significant amount of donated supplies. They offer bandages for sore feet, and other minimal first response care for the protesters. There is even a masseuse who has set up a station to give massages because “it’s a stressful environment.” As the masseuse explains in the video, stressful interactions with the police and street hecklers can escalate confrontations and the massages are supposed to relieve some of that built up tension.
On top of all that, the organizers are basically feeding everyone. The eatery is organized like a buffet, and all food is donated as well.
Mallis says, “It’s more than marching and yelling, but it’s a community that’s growing. What makes this occupation different from others is that it’s not just one thing, one night, one march, one petition…it’s aspiring to be a movement.”
“‘What’s going to come of all this?’ is the wrong question. That’s part of it, but it’s about changing our philosophy, changing our values. What we value most in this country is material wealth… what if we define happiness with other things? With community?” said Mallis.
Mallis said that the team working on this video turned it around in four days. While he’s not stationed at the official OWS media booth working on the livestream, “Everyone here with a camera is part of the media team,” he said.
The thing that struck Mallis the most while shooting video was how calm people were. “It’s a very non-violent occupation. Everyone was willing to talk to us, willing to smile at you, that’s what’s so beautiful about this.”