×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

American Autumn: An Occudoc

Opening in limited release beginning Sept. 28, this strong, well-crafted docu preaches eloquently to the choir. Community screenings and airings on left-leaning cable outlets might further spread the word.

With:
With: Dennis Trainor Jr., Vlad Tiechberg, Nathan Schneider, Leah Bolger, Debora Sweet, Margaret Flowers, Cornel West, Jackie De Salvo, Katie Goodman.

About three minutes into “American Autumn: An Occudoc,” helmer-writer-narrator Dennis Trainor Jr. declares his position as one of the original players in the ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement, freeing the pic to be an impassioned work of advocacy journalism and an illustrated manifesto intended to get his audience involved. Opening in limited release beginning Sept. 28, this strong, well-crafted docu preaches eloquently to the choir. Community screenings and airings on left-leaning cable outlets might further spread the word.

Trainor gathers footage, much of it shot by his crew, from “occupied” New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., recording some dramatic clashes with baton-wielding, pepper-spraying police, but concentrating more directly on event speakers and on-the-fly interviews with organizers and participants.

He also adds his own visual two cents, excerpting Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street,” and citing Michael Douglas’ character’s greed, meant as a satirical portrayal of villainy, but taken by a generation as a heroic role model for advancement. Charts showing the widening gap between rich and poor, worker and CEO splash vividly across the screen.

But “American Autumn” impresses most where many docus disappoint, expanding its scope without short-changing the wider subjects it covers. Trainor often pulls quotes from the Declaration of Occupation of New York, part of several graphically enhanced texts that punctuate his narrative, in order to introduce related grassroots movements. But his segues mainly spring from the fact that Occupy Wall Street itself hooked up with so many other like-minded protest groups.

Thus, in addition to airing grievances directed against banks and Wall Street by activists, professors, marchers, singers and comedians, the docu takes aim at student debt, covering marches protesting the skyrocketing cost of education; sits in on protestors seeking to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that increased the power of moneyed interests in elections; and interviews those involved in environmental protection and climate-control issues. The docu includes footage of an anti-foreclosure group, the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending, as it interrupts the auction of a foreclosed home.

Critiques of the military-industrial complex and its fostering of wars mirror an Iraq veteran’s impassioned diatribe against police roughing up demonstrators during an Occupy clash. This links to an annual rally against police brutality, this year featuring much larger turnout and greater diversity, thanks to the convergence of grassroots movements.

Stylistically, seemingly disparate components — news footage, snippets of speeches and interviews, guerrilla camerawork, bold graphics and even songs — are unified in free-association under the director/narrator’s rallying cry, unhampered by any pretense to objectivity. As one interviewee states, it’s all a question of storytelling.

American Autumn: An Occudoc

Production: An Occudoc.org, Artful Dodger production. Produced by Douglas Trainor Jr. Executive producer, Peggy Kimble. Directed, written by Dennis Trainor Jr.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Kevin Egan, Asher Platts, Trainor; editors, AJ Russo, Trainor; music, Goldi, Mike Lawrence-Yannicelli; sound, James Russo, Jamie Smith. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Sept. 24, 2012. Running time: 75 MIN.

With: With: Dennis Trainor Jr., Vlad Tiechberg, Nathan Schneider, Leah Bolger, Debora Sweet, Margaret Flowers, Cornel West, Jackie De Salvo, Katie Goodman.

More Film

  • Gwyneth Paltrow Variety Cover Story

    Gwyneth Paltrow Talks About Her Biggest Fights With Harvey Weinstein

    In this week’s Variety cover story, Gwyneth Paltrow looks back on the 20th anniversary of winning the best actress Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love.” The movie still holds up today, although there’s an ominous figure lurking in the credits. The romantic comedy was produced by Harvey Weinstein, and Paltrow spoke about working for the volcanic [...]

  • Jason Hoch to Lead Imperative Entertainment's

    Jason Hoch to Lead Imperative Entertainment's New Podcast Division (EXCLUSIVE)

    Entertainment studio Imperative Entertainment has hired producer Jason Hoch to lead its newly formed podcast division, Variety has learned. The new division will create and produce podcasts based on both original ideas and third-party IP, in addition to exploring opportunities within the company’s existing slate of feature and TV projects. Hoch has over 20 years [...]

  • Gwyneth Paltrow 'Avengers: Infinity War' film

    Gwyneth Paltrow to Exit Marvel Cinematic Universe

    For the last decade, Gwyneth Paltrow has popped up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Pepper Potts, Iron Man’s secretary and eventual girlfriend. But in an interview with Variety, the actress said that she’s planning on retiring the character after this summer’s “Avengers: Endgame.” “I mean, I’m a bit old to be in a suit [...]

  • Oscars Predictions Final

    Final Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win, and Who Should?

    At 5 p.m. Tuesday on the west coast it’ll be pencils down for Oscar voters, so to speak. Or maybe in an era of online voting, it’s more like laptops closed. Either way, polling for the 91st annual Academy Awards officially concludes in a few short hours. Five days from now, we’ll find out which [...]

  • Modern Films Picks Up Oscar-Nominated 'Never

    Modern Films Picks Up Oscar-Nominated 'Never Look Away' for U.K.

    Modern Films has snagged U.K. and Ireland rights to “Never Look Away,” the German-language Oscar entry from “The Lives of Others” helmer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The multi-generational story follows a young art student (Tom Schilling), who falls in love with a fellow student (Paula Beer). Her father (Sebastian Koch), a renowned doctor, disapproves of [...]

  • Gwyneth Paltrow Variety Cover Story

    Gwyneth Paltrow on How 'Shakespeare in Love' Changed Her Life (and the Oscars) Forever

    Gwyneth Paltrow never felt the same after making “Shakespeare in Love.” The movie that earned her the best actress Oscar 20 years ago transformed her into a global star. “It just changed my life,” Paltrow says on a recent afternoon in Los Angeles, reflecting on the impact of the 1998 romantic comedy that grossed nearly [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content