Original short documentaries produced by The Atlantic
Author: Daniel Lombroso
Richard B. Spencer greeted an audience of more than 200 at an alt-right conference in Washington D.C. last month with the cry, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” He was met with enthusiastic cheers and Nazi salutes, and The Atlantic’s clip made headlines. This short documentary goes further inside Spencer’s ethnocentric worldview to understand what his plans are for the so-called alt-right—namely, to bring white nationalism out of the shadows. “I don’t see myself as a marginal figure who’s going to be hated by society. I see myself as a mainstream figure,” he said. Spencer and other alt-right leaders see Donald Trump’s rise as the first step towards a whites-only state. “Our lived experience is being a young, white person in 21st century America, [and] seeing your identity be demeaned,” Spencer said. “I’ve lived in this multicultural mess for years and I’m trying to get out of it.”
Beyond Diversity is a project of The Atlantic, supported by the Open Society Foundations.
Shot across North America and the UK over two years, Losing Our Religion provides a first look inside The Clergy Project, a safe, anonymous online space for preachers who no longer believe in god. The site has grown from sixty to over six hundred members in just two years. Now, for the first time, a documentary crew has been allowed access to the members of The Clergy Project. Many members find themselves trapped, facing the dilemma of either living a lie, or losing their job, community and even home and family.
Filmmaker Leslea Mair interviewed clergy across North America, including the Deep South, who are still undercover and know they would lose their jobs and their friends should anyone find out. Leslea also talked to former clergy, Clergy Project members who are “out,” who give open and personal explanations of why they became preachers, what happened, the cost of being honest, and why they are still working to help others trapped in the pulpit.
Commissioned by Bruce Cowley, senior director of documentary Channel, Losing Our Religion will have its world broadcast premiere on documentary Channel in the fall of 2017. Public screenings are also scheduled in select locations and the film will be available for purchase in 2018.
Contributors include Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Dan Barker, and many more.
The central idea to the book was that violence is an acceptable means to bring about political change. I no longer agree with this.–William Powell
In 1970, William Powell wanted to help build a new society, so he taught the world how to blow up the old one. As the heady days of the late 60’s counterculture and political upheaval turned darker, Powell, at age 19, wrote one of the most infamous books ever published: The Anarchist Cookbook. Part manifesto and part bomb making manual, it went on to sell over 2 million copies. Since then, the Cookbook has been associated with decades of violent anti-government attacks, abortion clinic bombings, school shootings and homegrown domestic terrorism.
At age 65, Powell remained haunted by his own creation, struggling to make sense of the damage it has done. After writing the book, Powell left the US and led an itinerant life. He traversed the globe teaching kids with special needs – committed, ironically, to the kinds of kids who in some cases have turned to violence and the Cookbook.
American Anarchist is a cautionary tale of youthful rebellion and unforeseen consequences, a universal, all-too-human story of a man at the end of his life wrestling with his past, his identity, and coming to terms with who he really is. Powell died unexpectedly shortly after the making of the film.
The book is still available on Amazon and is listed as a bestseller. However, it is not the original book as it was published in 1971. That version may be retrieved for free on Internet Archive.
William Powell authored the following denouncement of the book on the Amazon listing:
I have recently been made aware of several websites that focus on The Anarchist Cookbook. As the author of the original publication some 30 plus years ago, it is appropriate for me to comment.
The Anarchist Cookbook was written during 1968 and part of 1969 soon after I graduated from high school. At the time, I was 19 years old and the Vietnam War and the so-called “counter culture movement” were at their height. I was involved in the anti-war movement and attended numerous peace rallies and demonstrations. The book, in many respects, was a misguided product of my adolescent anger at the prospect of being drafted and sent to Vietnam to fight in a war that I did not believe in.
I conducted the research for the manuscript on my own, primarily at the New York City Public Library. Most of the contents were gleaned from Military and Special Forces Manuals. I was not member of any radical group of either a left or right wing persuasion.
I submitted the manuscript directly to a number of publishers without the help or advice of an agent. Ultimately, it was accepted by Lyle Stuart Inc. and was published verbatim – without editing – in early 1970. Contrary to what is the normal custom, the copyright for the book was taken out in the name of the publisher rather than the author. I did not appreciate the significance of this at the time and would only come to understand it some years later when I requested that the book be taken out of print.
The central idea to the book was that violence is an acceptable means to bring about political change. I no longer agree with this.
Apparently in recent years, The Anarchist Cookbook has seen a number of ‘copy cat’ type publications, some with remarkably similar titles (Anarchist Cookbook II, III etc). I am not familiar with these publications and cannot comment upon them. I can say that the original Anarchist Cookbook has not been revised or updated in any way by me since it was first published.
During the years that followed its publication, I went to university, married, became a father and a teacher of adolescents. These developments had a profound moral and spiritual effect on me. I found that I no longer agreed with what I had written earlier and I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the ideas that I had put my name to. In 1976 I became a confirmed Anglican Christian and shortly thereafter I wrote to Lyle Stuart Inc. explaining that I no longer held the views that were expressed in the book and requested that The Anarchist Cookbook be taken out of print. The response from the publisher was that the copyright was in his name and therefore such a decision was his to make – not the author’s. In the early 1980’s, the rights for the book were sold to another publisher. I have had no contact withthat publisher (other than to request that the book be taken out of print) and I receive no royalties.
Unfortunately, the book continues to be in print and with the advent of the Internet several websites dealing with it have emerged. I want to state categorically that I am not in agreement with the contents of The Anarchist Cookbook and I would be very pleased (and relieved) to see its publication discontinued. I consider it to be a misguided and potentially dangerous publication which should be taken out of print.
William Powell –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The official trailer from Zipporah Films, Inc. EX LIBRIS premieres worldwide at the Venice Film Festival and theatrically at Film Forum on September 13, 2017.
Film Forum announces the world theatrical premiere of EX LIBRIS – The New York Public Library on Wednesday, September 13. In this, the 42nd documentary by Frederick Wiseman (recipient of an Honorary Oscar in 2016), the legendary filmmaker brings his incisive vision behind the scenes of one of the world’s greatest institutions of learning, capturing the vast programmatic scope of NYC’s library system.
EX LIBRIS is the 12th of Wiseman’s titles Film Forum has debuted, making him the most-premiered filmmaker in the cinema’s 47-year history. Following its NYC premiere, the documentary will open in numerous markets across the country this fall via Wiseman’s company, Zipporah Films. EX LIBRIS will play in select film festivals.
(c) Zipporah Films, All Rights Reserved.
Visit www.zipporah.com for more infomation on EX LIBRIS and the films of Frederick Wiseman.
UPDATE: Filmmaker Ben Fama has now made the full film available for free on YouTube. See link at the bottom of this article.
Filmmaker Ben Fama Jr. was kind enough to provide us with a private screening of his new film Reasons to Believe. Here’s our take on this exciting project available for general release on September 11, 2017.
Allegory of the Cave
The film begins with a cinematically pleasing vision of Plato’sAllegory of the Cave, where humans are imprisoned in a cave and denied knowledge of the outside world. In the allegory, humans move from darkness to light, from false beliefs to truth and reason.
Fama then poses the following questions:
How do beliefs shape our reality? Why do we believe?
How are we influenced to believe?
How do other people affect our thinking?
How do our beliefs hold us back?
How do we free ourselves from false beliefs?
MICHAEL SHERMER, Author, The Moral Arc; The Believing Brain
PETER BOGHOSSIAN, Author, A Manual for Creating Atheists
CALEB LACK, Coauthor, Critical Thinking, Science, and Pseudoscience: Why We Can’t Trust our Brains
JENNIFER WHITSON, Author, “The Emotional Roots of Conspiratorial Perceptions, System Justification, and Belief in the Paranormal”
CHAD WOODRUFF, Author, Neuroscience of Empathy and Compassion
Fama’s questions are carefully considered by each expert and are addressed through carefully interwoven comments on each topic.
The film takes us through the human brain’s need to understand the world, often through a process in which beliefs come first and evidence comes second. In other words, beliefs are often not evidence-based, but make us feel better, perhaps even superior to others. These sometimes false beliefs are further influenced and reinforced by family, community, education, and the time period in which we live. While our beliefs often make us who we are, or who we feel we are, they also have the power to divide us into ideological communities.
The discussion expands on the idea that we may be predisposed to accept certain beliefs because they are often confirmed by intense personal experiences. However, we are reminded, that experience does not equal objective truth.
The experts then explain that much of our human propensity for superstitions, magical rituals, and religious beliefs are rooted in the fact that life is random, unpredictable, and downright scary. We seek to avoid anxiety and a feeling that we like control; we seek comfort and meaning; we want to make sense out of chaos; we want to cope with uncertainty. This magical thinking is reinforced by the brain as we seek out patterns, even if these patterns are false and illogical.
So if false beliefs make us feel better, why does it matter? In the long run, false beliefs can lead to problems, the greatest of which is violence. Bad ideas lead can easily lead to bad behavior. Science teaches us that it really does matter what is right and what is wrong. Faulty beliefs lead to real world consequences and must be combatted. We must update our view of the world and weed out bad ideas. We must use data as opposed to anecdotes.
The film ends on an encouraging and positive note. The experts make practical suggestions to embrace reason. Some of the best:
Be comfortable with the words, “I don’t know.”
Model the behavior of a skeptic.
Use the scientific method.
Don’t attack beliefs—be polite, be thoughtful, use humor, listen to others and then respond with statements that open a conversation such as “I wonder how that could be true? What do you think?”
Study scientifically why religion has been viewed as so beneficial and how we can address that need in other more rational ways.
Help others to trust reason and value correct information.
Introduce critical thinking in early education. Teach children to recognize that our brains can fool us.
Assert that a more thoughtful and examined life has value.
Suggest that an alignment with reality will help humans flourish, that science and reason can and will lead to justice, freedom, prosperity and peace.
Reasons to Believe is well-organized and builds nicely from a primer on the brain to the foundations of belief, ending with a lovely, positive message about the future of skepticism and science and practical solutions we can embrace as individuals and as citizens of the world. It is a film you will want to view more than one time to take it all in.
Michael Shermer ties it up nicely at the end of the film: “I think we have a new enlightenment—a science-based enlightenment.”
View the trailer
BEN FAMA JR: DIRECTOR
Ben Fama Jr. is an award-winning filmmaker, podcaster, and entrepreneur noted for his work on his short film A Virus Called Fear and his documentary Reasons To Believe. He has been featured in Huffington Post and his films have been featured on PBS, Medibiz.tv, and IndieFlix. Ben’s films and talks reflect the social and psychological behavior of humans and their social constructs on society. He is a very outspoken skeptic and atheist, as well as an advocate for mental health. His goal is to challenge the way we think and see the world, as well as what we believe.
He is the owner of Fama Media Productions, LLC. and the host of the podcast Reality Trip with Ben Fama Jr.
MESA FAMA: PRODUCER
Mesa has produced three award winning films with Ben Fama Jr. including two documentaries and a narrative. She holds a degree in psychology as a graduate from Arizona State University. She continues to produce and manage Fama Media Productions and sometimes is a guest host on the podcast Reality Trip with Ben Fama Jr.