Michael Chanan (dir), Chronicle of Protest: a Video Diary

IssueOctober 2011
Review by Patrick Nicholson

Filmed between December 2010 and March 2011, Michael Chanan’s documentary is a collage of video and music capturing the excitement, spontaneity and power of the grassroots movement that exploded into existence as a response to government spending cuts in the universities and beyond.

As well as the video diary elements filmed by Chanan himself, there is interspersed found and borrowed footage, reminding us of how this was a movement interacting with the public sphere, and drawing in wider support from other activists and citizens. There is no conventional narrative but the events recorded speak for themselves and the story constructs itself naturally from this. As Chanan says in his film-maker’s statement, “reality is the co-author of the film”.

My one grumble would be that, being essentially a video diary, it could benefit from being somewhat shorter in order to work better in a conventional cinema setting. However that’s a minor point, and anyway it’s pretty clearly a film aimed at less conventional audiences and settings. I was present at the screening at the Peace News Summer Camp earlier this year, and it was well-received and provoked a great discussion afterwards.

This is an important work documenting a fascinating and largely unanticipated radical movement in and around the universities, and is valuable in both a historical and an inspirational sense.

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