Propaganda and misinformation are playing a key role in Russia's imperialist invasion of Ukraine. This includes pro-Russia sentiment coming from within the US, which is especially dangerous in our increasingly siloed media echo chambers. Artists and filmmakers can play a huge part in pushing back against propaganda that justifies imperialism around the world.
A brand new film we're featuring this month, The Art of Un-War follows Krzysztof Wodiczko's public art protesting imperialism from 1968 through to the 21st century. Wodiczko uses installation art including video projections on monuments to disrupt the glorification of war these monuments reinforce, and to tell the stories of soldiers fighting those wars. Another film, Hunting in Wartime, tells the struggles of Indigenous American Vietnam War veterans from Hoonah, Alaska before, during, and after the war, including the way many of them ended up sympathizing with the Vietnamese people they were sent to kill. Trust Me explores manipulation and misinformation at the intersection of human nature and information technology.
The Art Of Un-War follows Wodiczko, an instigator for social change, as he challenges our complacency towards war, xenophobia and displacement with his unique public projections. His work disrupts the valorization of state-sanctioned aggression in these spaces. The film delves into timely works such as the Abraham Lincoln War Veteran Projection in Union Square, NYC, where Wodiczko projects the voices and images of soldiers from 20th and 21st-century wars onto the statue of Lincoln. The evolution of Wodiczko’s political art unfolds throughout the film from his first intervention created in Warsaw in 1968 in response to censorship, to one of his most ambitious projects and a focal point of the film – a radical proposal to transform Paris’ Arc De Triomphe war monument into a site for peace-building research and activism.
In Hunting in Wartime, Tlingit veterans from Hoonah, Alaska who saw combat during the Vietnam War talk about surviving trauma, relating to Vietnamese civilians during the war, and serving a government that systematically oppresses native people. The film gives a long-range perspective on how the veterans’ lives continue to be affected long after the war has ended. Their stories also confront the complexity of serving a country that forbid the Tlingit language, over-logged their forests, and established laws that robbed returning vets of their ancestral trade as fishermen.
Trust Me is a documentary and educational program to help people better interpret the media. It explores how media outlets capitalize on humankind's attraction to stories about violence, and how we gather and share information and misinformation in the digital age. Interviews are woven with compelling human stories that create empathy, then unveil solutions audiences can adopt to detect manipulation and fake news, and identify valid messaging. It also details the benefits of self-limiting our own sharing/reporting of credible facts. As the film explores, media literacy can help us overcome anxiety, depression, and even reduce violence in society.