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Creating Freedom: The Lottery of Birth (2013)

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THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH is the first in a three-part documentary series entitled 'Creating Freedom' exploring the relationship between freedom, power and control in Western democracies. The ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Michael Albert ...
Stanley Aronowitz ...
Tony Benn ...
Nick Davies ...
Daniel C. Dennett ...
Himself (as Daniel Dennett)
Bill Fletcher Jr. ...
George Monbiot ...
Steven Pinker ...
Jeff Schmidt ...
Kathleen Taylor ...
Narrator (voice)


THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH is the first in a three-part documentary series entitled 'Creating Freedom' exploring the relationship between freedom, power and control in Western democracies. The series draws together interviews with some of the world's leading intellectuals, journalists and activists to offer an alternative perspective on today's society and the future we're creating. We do not choose to exist, or the environment we grow up in. Our starting point in life is one of passive reliance on forces over which we have no control. THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH shows that from birth onwards our minds are a battleground of competing forces: familial, educational, cultural, and professional. The outcome of this battle not only determines who we become, but the society that we create. Written by Anonymous

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21 June 2013 (USA)  »

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An inspirational, insightful & piercing assessment individual freedom and the failures of liberal capitalism

If art and activism are to be judged by their potential to trigger transformation, then the Lottery of Birth is a masterpiece on both counts. Visually stunning, strikingly original and quite breath taking in scope, the first installment of the independently-produced Creating Freedom series takes on some of the most pressing and fundamental questions facing progressive struggles today. While following its own carefully crafted line of argument, the film draws together a remarkable collection of interviews from progressive academics across the world in both the social and natural sciences. Many are beloved and familiar faces on the left: Tony Benn, Vandana Shiva, Michael Albert and the late, great Howard Zinn. (Rumour has it, Chomsky's in the sequel.) The interviewees are intimately lit against cold black backdrops and skillful direction has them leaning into the lens like you're the only person in the room.

Beautifully scripted throughout, the film ruthlessly unpicks many of the founding myths of liberal democratic theory, scrutinising what it means to live in a system that tells people they are free, whilst embedding them from birth in vast systems of socialisation and control: at home, at school, at church and at work. Prepare to be reminded of it every time you mount an empty escalator or watch the sun set over a city skyline: it throws out clusters of deeply evocative and analogous images that will follow you round for months after you see the film, and betray the creator's background in fine arts.

Taking human freedom as its core value, it shows viewers the extent to which megalithic economic, educational and political institutions cripple our liberty and cultivates a divisive culture of competitive individualism. Apparently it has been widely well-received, topping the download charts in South and North America – a remarkable achievement for such a challenging and subversive film. This success is due at least in part to the language used: universally accessible and devoid of the political-philosophical clichés that so quickly put up barriers to debate, the narrative looks down on no one. This makes for a documentary anyone willing to question themselves can engage with, whatever their beliefs. It is at once uncompromising and deeply compassionate:

"History suggests that there is neither a belief too bizarre nor an action too appalling for humans to embrace given the necessary cultural influences… In an important sense, we are not born free. In fact to take our freedom for granted is to extinguish the possibility of attaining it."

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