We Are Many: why protest is still important

Ceylon Hickman talks about Amir Amirani’s film and why we have to hold governments to account.

Amir Amirani Cambridge protest Iraq war protest We Are Many Cambridge

Most of us werent even teenagers on 15 February 2003. We were probably oblivious that it was the day of the biggest political protest in human history.

Jump twelve years later and your Facebook feed is likely inundated with invites to SMASH THE TORIES and END AUSTERITY NOW on Downing Street.

You might think this hypermodern style of social-media-spread protest does nothing for the cause, except help a few lefty friends gain enough Instagram likes to escape the seemingly endless list of usernames.

However, Amir Amiranis film We Are Manyproves otherwise, and it premieres next week across the UK, featuring a live Q&A with the director himself, Damon Albarn, Omid Djalili, Greg Wise and Jon Snow.

On February 15th, 2003, up to 30 million people took to the streets in nearly 800 cities around the world, to protest against the potential intervention in Iraq.

It was the worlds largest protest, and I was there. 8 years old and surrounded by caricatures of Blair and Bush with devil horns, chanting Not in our name, whilst dodging my nan and her flailing placard.

Even at the age of 8, dragged along by my parents for a family day out to join the revolution, I could understand that people werent happy, but I never saw the whole picture until I saw We Are Many.

Most adorable political activist you’ve ever seen.

Amiranis film tells the story of the first ever global demonstration and its unreported legacy.

Despite Blair and Bushs decision to take us all blindly into war with Iraq and the apparent failure of February 15th, the film shows the lasting impact of that day, as Amirani traces the origins of the Arab Spring back to 2003.

Featuring the likes of Damon Albarn, Noam Chomsky and the legendary Brian Eno, We Are Manytakes the audience on an emotional roller-coaster, from rage to tears to goosebumps. It received a four minute long standing ovation the first time it was ever screened.

Amirani himself did his Mphil in International Relations at Cambridge, and has since spent nine years working on the film. In Michaelmas, the Centre of Governance and Human Rights hosted Amirani and a preview screening at Kings, and I was fortunate enough to meet with him afterwards.

Reflecting on the screening, Amirani said he was blown away by the reaction, and he was adamant that the film had to make a return for the national premiere, this time at the Picturehouse.

In 2003, Cambridge resident and Booker nominated novelist Ali Smith told Amir how she remembers finding huge numbers of fellow Cambridge residents and students moving en masse to the station to go to London.

Perhaps that will be us on June 20th. Maybe well feature in the next documentary film. We Are Many is definitely a film thatll convince you to click attending on all those Facebook events, and you might even end up going.

If Stephen approves it has to be good.

In the words of Scroobius Pip: Thou Shalt Not Question Stephen Fry, so go and see this incredible piece of cinematography on Thursday, and make sure you write a status about it because politics is edgy and youll get likes.