Film

Project aims to spark motivation through film

Yes Men show a different form of activism

Dr. Ian Reilly spoke about the Yes Men's form of activism at the screening.
Dr. Ian Reilly spoke about the Yes Men’s form of activism at the screening.   Teri Boates

Who would have thought a prank could be used as a form of protest?

The Radical Imagination Project and the Yes Men, that’s who.

On Monday, the Radical Imagination Project hosted a free screening of their documentary The Yes Men are Revolting at the Halifax Central Library.

“We decided that there was real need for more opportunities for people who weren’t already activists, who weren’t already sort of convinced of different causes or committed to doing political action,” said Dr. Alex Khasnabish, co-director of the Radical Imagination Project and a professor of sociology and anthropology at Mount Saint Vincent University.

The project was started in 2010 and focuses on analyzing, broadcasting and promoting radical ideas that emerge from social movements.

“To have opportunities to share ideas, to come to know about things they didn’t know about already and to make use of wonderful public spaces.”

For three years the project has hosted several documentary film screenings. The films focus on political, racial, environmental or social justice issues.

The Yes Men are Revolting was released in 2014 and tells the story of the Yes Men, an activist duo who use pranks and hoaxes to raise awareness of political, environmental and social issues.

The library has hosting Radical Imagination's movie screening's for three years.
The library has been hosting Radical Imagination’s movie screenings for three years.   Teri Boates

Directed by Laura Nix, Yes Men focuses on global climate change and a demand for renewable energy resources, while retaining an element of comedy. These comedy element includes impersonating a Chamber of Commerce member and calling a meeting to discuss climate change.

Khasnabish says there were two reasons the group decided to screen the film. First, they wanted to show a “less serious” documentary about an important issue.

“We show so many films that are excellent, but are really serious … after a while it becomes a real grind for people, I think,” he said.

“To be constantly confronted with images and stories about how bad things are and not be given a chance to laugh together.”

The second reason was to show an alternative form of activism.

“It isn’t just marching down the street,” said Khasnabish. “Because so many decision makers are so immune to that spectacle and it’s more about creating alternative forms of intervention, whatever that might be.”

Dr. Ian Reilly, a professor at Mount Saint Vincent University, spoke about the Yes Men and their protest methods.

“Hoaxes are generally thought to be destructive,” he said, but the Yes Men “start a dialogue and put those issues on the map.”

About 20 people came to see the film and participate in a discussion afterwards.

The Radical Imagination Project’s next screening is Is the Crown at War With Us, a film about the Mi’kmaq people of Burnt Church, N.B., who lost their fishing rights in 2000. The film is scheduled to screen on Nov. 14 in Paul O’Regan Hall at the Halifax Central Library.