WEST NEWBURY - “American Spring,” a documentary short film series examining democracy reform issues, is being released this week and is available for free to the community for education and advocacy use, according to local filmmaker and series creator Kevin Bowe.
“Let’s bring the power of storytelling to engage people around structural political issues and empower people so that they can make a difference,” Bowe said in a release.
"American Spring” examines the problems and potential solutions needed to reestablish our democratic republic in the digital age. From nuts and bolts election reforms to re-imagining civic institutions, each 10-minute episode explores a reform designed to increase public trust or reduce hyper-polarization in a political system plagued by public corruption, digital propaganda and deteriorating institutions, according to Bowe.
“One episode could be used to kick off a monthly meeting, or multiple episodes could be stacked together for 40 to 60 minutes of content, with a Q and A panel, to make a larger event out of it online or offline,” Bowe said. “We just want to make sure people leave the event with a call to action that gets them involved in fixing our broken system."
Bowe, a former advertising and technology executive turned documentary film maker, created this series based on his experience as a political activist. According to Bowe, there are at least three more episodes that cover other critical issues in the production pipeline.
“If you want to build a movement, you need to bring people into it. This is my way of trying to help,” Bowe, whose 2017 feature film, “Democracy Through the Looking Glass,” chronicled the early days of President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2015 and 2016.
The first episodes of "American Spring" explore public campaign finance solutions; Michigan’s 2018 citizen movement that reformed anti-gerrymandering laws; and Maine’s 2018 Ranked Choice Voting experience. The 10-minute episodes are designed for both offline and online viewing events hosted by groups or individuals.
The series blends original stories with commentary by experts, such as two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith and activists like Katie Fahey, along with interviews with representatives from RepresentUS, Open Democracy, the Brennan Center for Justice, and American Promise.
“This is a new tool for the age-old problem – how to engage people at the grassroots level. It is a great conversation starter that is the first step in building political change,” said Fahey, executive director of ThePeople.
Fahey's leadership role in the Michigan anti gerrymandering effort is featured in the "People Powered Change" episode.
FairVote is using the episode "Unspoiled Elections: Ranked Choice Voting," on its social media platforms and is evaluating how the content can be used in state and local ranked choice voting initiatives. The epsiode provides first-hand accounts by voters and observers regarding Maine’s 2018 RVC elections, according to David Daley, senior communications fellow for FairVote.
“It gives a compelling and nonpartisan view of how ranked choice voting works on the ground with voters and its potential impact on negative campaigning” Daley said.
In addition to FairVote, other groups utilizing the content include Election Reformers Network, Democracy Matters, Open Democracy and ThePeople. Any organization or individual may use the content for both large and small events.
For groups who would like their own media files to use on their social media platforms or viewing event, email email@example.com. Episodes can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL45k9hlMCEeZZxh0s4nfl3kqmd-NNbX4n
On the web: https://www.democracythroughthelookingglass.com