Cultures Of Resistance

Cultures Of Resistance

Directed by: Iara Lee
73 minutes

New England Premiere

Arabic/Burmese/English/Farsi/French/Hebrew/Portuguese/Spanish/Vietnamese/Xhosa with English subtitles


Large-scale clashes and overt protests have long attracted documentarians striving to dissect individual conflicts and the motivations driving each side. Filmmaker Iara Lee had a far broader target in mind, however, when she embarked on her own global odyssey in 2003: the chameleonic phenomenon of resistance itself. Troubled by the increasingly chaotic international climate on the eve of the Iraq War, Lee set out to examine humanity’s potentially self-destructive course. What she found on her multiyear journey across five continents was an astonishing diversity of movements, messages, gestures, demonstrations, and celebrations perpetuated by those who would not merely submit to the momentum of their respective societies.

Lee gives us a remarkably intimate look at 12 of the world’s innumerable power struggles—some that are among the best known, some that have been misrepresented or ignored. The forces that her subjects combat vary from the clearly defined to the more insidious, from the intrusion of others to corruption within. Some groups fight for resources, others for rights, and still others for their lives. But equally varied are the tools they manipulate to reach out to others and foster change: education, invention, poetry, music, cartoons, photography, graffiti, and dance, to name a few.

CULTURES OF RESISTANCE naturally stimulates meditation on our species’ saddening penchant for perpetrating injustice, but its ultimate theme is profoundly empowering. Lee’s film is an ambitious and uplifting study of the most fundamental and important elements that bind all humanity: inspiration, determination, and hope.

—Sandra L. Frey