[Atlanta Film Festival] Documentaries: Freedom For The Wolf (2017) - Reviewed

Freedom for the Wolf screened at ATLFF

Speaking to the European Parliament on April 17, 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the rise of Nationalism across the continent. He said, “There seems to be a sort of European civil war where selfish interests sometimes appear more important than what unites Europe.” Adding, “In the face of authoritarianism, the response is not authoritarian democracy but the authority of democracy.” In the new documentary Freedom for the Wolf, director Rupert Russell takes a deep dive into the current state of democracy, the forces that threaten it, and where it’s headed in the post-Cold War world.

Covering the nations of Hong Kong, Tunisia, India, Japan and the United States, Russell asks the audience to consider the various concepts of freedom. Not only how these concepts are linked to democracy but also to power and consumerism. Through the use of interviews with activists, professors, political leaders, and entertainers, the audience learns that freedom is more complex than the simplistic use we are all accustomed to hearing from our leaders. That all freedom is not equal, as freedom for the wolf does not translate to freedom for the sheep.

Along with these interviews and associated b roll, Freedom for the Wolf also employs a significant amount of animation. Used interstitially, these drawings are what drive the mood of the film. Without them, Freedom for the Wolf has a somewhat Frontline feel, which still stands on its own. However, because of the animation’s rough sketch style and mostly black, white and red color palette, the film a takes on a more somber and menacing attitude, which I think is very successful in conveying the magnitude of its message.

Benjamin Franklin said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Originally, Franklin was speaking of safety from violence, however, in the era of Late Capitalism, this quote takes on a different meaning. Safety for most of the developed world translates to the economic variety, which many associate with freedom. This is not a new subject for documentaries. Economics and freedom have already been explored as being intrinsically linked. Capitalism: A Love Story (2009) and The Corporation (2003) both discuss how Capitalism has the ability to erode civil liberties. However, Freedom For The Wolf delves deeper into the connection, giving the audience a more complex landscape in which to reflect on.

Overall, Freedom For The Wolf is a compelling and auspicious documentary. The techniques it employs, along with a new approach and information on the subject, make it appropriate for the times. Considering that the world is currently living on a razor’s edge between embracing authoritarianism or democracy, it’s a film you don’t want to miss.

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-Dawn Stronski