For the international symbol she has become, Ala’a Basatneh’s path as a social media activist started remarkably modest. The Syrian-born student (1992) from #Chicago Girl had only sixty Facebook friends when she decided in 2011 to support the Syrian revolution from her American home more than 6.000 miles away. ‘I wasn’t active on social media at all,’ she says. ‘I would only go on Facebook to post a song or to chat with a friend.’ Read more about Ala’a Basatneh.
The men in her local community opposed her decision to run for mayor. The ruling mayor even went as far as saying that ‘women don’t exist here’. Undaunted by their discrimination, Eufrosina Cruz from Eufrosina's Revolution, persevered, soon rising to chair the Congress of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico – the first indigenous woman ever to do so. She was elected to the Mexican National Chamber of Deputies last year. Read more about Eufrosina Cruz Mendoza.
Eritrean refugees trying to reach Israel are kidnapped, held for ransom and tortured in the Sinai desert. Many do not survive. Meron Estefanos campaigns for the world to take notice of these atrocities. She thinks that the film Sound of Torture will make a difference. ‘I hope this film will be an ambassador.’ Read more about Meron Estefanos.
Three years ago the Tahrir Square in Cairo changed the life of Ahmed Hassan, head figure in The Square, and many other Egyptians. In January 2011, here started the uprising that took thousands to the street and led to the overthrow of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. ‘I suddenly heard people screaming outside,’ Hassan recalls. ‘I saw lots of policemen and a crowd...I ran outside to join.’ Read more about Ahmed Hassan.
Pussy Riot emerged in 2011 on the waves of popular discontent with the rule of Vladimir Putin, who was preparing to get elected for a third term as Russia’s president. The surprise performances of young women (visible in Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer) in colourful balaclavas singing anti-Putin songs in unusual places, elicited smiles from bystanders. Read more about Masha, Katia and Nadia.
Colombian activist and restaurant owner Agripina Perea (40) from documentary Disruption is a woman with a mission. She got a chance to build a better life for herself through a savings programme for women. Since then, she’s been trying to convince as many women as possible that the programme offers a viable path out of poverty. Read more about Agripina Perea.
When asked what he considers his biggest loss in his struggle against dictator Alexandr Lukashenka, former Belarusian presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, from the documentary Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus, answers: ‘My country.’ Even though he strongly feels that he has worked for the benefit of his country, Sannikov can no longer live in Belarus. By working for his country, he lost it. Read more about Andrei Sannikov.
With his personal style of reporting, Jeremy Scahill doesn’t try to hide his own point of view. ‘The thing that drives his reporting more than anything is the human element,’ says his colleague Glenn Greenwald. Jeremy Scahill is featured in the film Dirty Wars. We spoke to Glenn Greenwald, who works together with Scahill on The Intercept, an online publication funded by Pierre Omidyar. The publication was created by Greenwald, Scahill and documentary maker Laura Poitras. Read the interview about Jeremy Scahill.
The reaction of onlookers may be one of shock or, as recently by Russian president Vladimir Putin, undisguised amusement. But the topless actions of Femen do not leave anyone indifferent, regardless in what country or culture they take place. ‘Shock therapy,’ is how Inna Shevchenko, one of Femen’s leaders, calls their practice of baring their breasts in public. Success guaranteed, see the proof in Everyday Rebellion. Read more about Inna Sjevtsjenko.
‘Here, we are amongst ourselves. Everyone you see here is gay.’ These words, spoken in the documentary Born This Way when a member of Alternatives-Cameroun welcomes new clients to the centre, must be liberating if you have lived your life hiding your sexual identity. To realise that you are not alone, says executive director Yves Yomb of Alternatives, is very empowering. Read more about Yves Yomb.