Dennis Trainor, Jr. first came to my awareness in one of those little magical internet moments when one click leads to another, and the next thing you know somebody brilliant and provocative has virtually entered your living room. At the time, he worked under the name Davis Fleetwood, producing The Hermit, youtube videos that smacked the viewer upside the head with facts about our institutions and our elected leaders. Dennis began working under his real name with A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. because you stand for something. He continued to express the outrage many of us were feeling about the nature of our society and our government, and his videos matured sort of like he did himself. He evolved from a political action figure into a seasoned activist. In American Autumn, his recently released “OccuDoc” about the beginnings of the Occupy movement, Dennis provides hard statistics to back up the opinions and analysis of a collection of determined, tenacious ethical thinkers who have shaped the development of the Occupy movement.
Last September, when the mainstream media didn’t know what to make of Occupy since there were no publicists delivering press releases to tell them what to say, media outlets around the country repeatedly asked for Occupy to issue a single demand. The New York City General Assembly responded with The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City (http://www.nycga.net/resources/declaration/). American Autumn is structured around this document. Dennis and associate producer A.J. Russo take the bullet points from the Declaration, use powerful graphics to present them and support the assertions with statistics and interviews. As a result, the film is a beautifully designed educational tool.
Whether you are just learning about Occupy or participated in some of the actions and events – the number of crucial, interconnected issues addressed by the movement can be overwhelming. It’s easy for one issue to eclipse another because the health care crisis, for example, is just as major as the foreclosure crisis. Student Loan debt, incarceration rates among racial groups, Citizens United, income inequity, workers rights, money for endless wars and no taxes on the rich and corporations – that huge, swirling shit storm all went into Occupy.
American Autumn sorts out the shit storm in short, clear segments that include interviews with both established and emerging activists, so that a historical, informed perspective on social justice is energized with new enthusiasm.
At the premiere party in Brooklyn last June, the crowd and the atmosphere glowed with this same energy and spirit. A lot of people who appeared in the film were there, and a few of them spoke before the screening. Travis Morales, of The World Can’t Wait and Jose Martin, a member of the OWS Direct Action Working Group, were enlightening and inspirational. Asher Platts was there, of course. Now he’s a Green candidate for State Senate in Maine, but last fall he crashed at my place back in the fall when he was filming down at Zuccotti Park and 60 Wall. He calls me OccuMom, and I bought him a beer. I would have bought one for Lee Camp too except he already had one. I was able to thank Dennis’ wife, Dina M, for sharing him so generously with all of us. And I was able to thank single-payer advocate Dr. Margaret Flowers, who remembered me from a video I did for Worldwide Hippies which was very flattering, as well as Kevin Zeese, from It’s Our Economy. Dr. Flowers and Kevin Zeese, like Dennis Trainor, were instrumental organizers of October2011. In a way, American Autumn provides a bridge connecting the seasoned activists who have been seeking social justice for years and years with the young, and sometimes “newbie” activists that seemed to spring out of nowhere for Occupy. In the film, Debra Sweet, founder of The World Can’t Wait, points out that all those years of work provided a foundation and a springboard for OWS, and Code Pink‘s Medea Benjamin says that Occupy helped more established activists break out of the standard model of people coming to Washington DC from all over just to march around in a circle on a Saturday when all the government offices were closed.
The dream and the drive for Social Justice, Peace and Sustainability are not new. This struggle goes back to Jay Gould and the Robber Barons, the Abolitionists, the Revolutionary War, the Reformation – all the way back to Jesus, the Buddha and maybe even longer. Each generation takes up the banner, so that inch by inch, the better world we all envision becomes a reality. Dennis, and all the people who helped make American Autumn, have presented the rationale and theory behind the movement in order to issue an invitation to Occupy – whether you’re getting up to join the fray for the hundredth time or you’ve been watching and wondering from the sidelines.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Spread the good news – watch and share American Autumn with all your friends and family. It’s a perfect way to celebrate OWS’s first birthday – and it’s especially perfect to watch after those big family arguments when some conservative relative starts mouthing off about all of us commie malcontents. And if you watch it all the way to the end of the credits, you can even see my little name, PENolan, there among the supporters. It’s not my favorite part of the film, but I am proud to be associated in a small way with the larger movement – and it illustrates how when we all work together, we really can make a difference. Join us in NYC on September 15, 16 and 17th for the anniversary — You Are Not A Loan http://occupywallst.org/