Citizens and the Crisis: a documentary

Last month I attended the closing conference of the LIVEWHAT project. LIVEWHAT stands for “Living With Hard Times”. It is an EU-funded research project coordinated by Prof. Marco Giugni that investigates  citizens’ responses to the economic crisis in nine European countries.

Besides its fascinating topic and research questions (read more about the project here), what intrigued me most was the fact that shooting a documentary film was part of the project. During the closing conference,  “Citizens and the Crisis” premiered. Its three parts-of about 15 minutes each- can be viewed here; part 1 is featured below.

Specifically, the documentary follows several alternative action organizations, alternative forms of resilience that can take the form of food banks, medical services, soup kitchens, cooperatives and free legal advice, amongst others. The documentary shows how the economic crisis affected the daily life of citizens and how some of these citizens decided to act collectively to combat hardship.

For instance, viewers get to know Carlos Macías, of the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH). This grassroots organization, located in Barcelona, defends the right to housing and protects people who cannot pay their mortgage and are threatened with eviction. Carlos talks about the shame that is associated with sudden poverty and the emotional support that activists give each other, but also about relations between the PAH and the Indignados, and about the importance of links between activism and institutional politics.

The PAH struggle is only one of several interesting stories followed by the film makers. In between fragments of activists and their often touching personal stories, Prof. Maria Kousis acts as an eloquent voiceover, presenting research findings of the project and giving further interpretation. In all, I enjoyed watching this documentary and strongly recommend it. I found it informative and enlightening. Making a documentary film as part of a research project in order to raise public awareness is refreshing.

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