WeTalk — The Ethics of Protest

At the Tribeca Film Festival, Ondi Timoner talks with four women who all use their platforms in powerful ways to fight injustice and create change.

In Episode 2 of WeTalk Tribeca, our host Ondi Timoner crafts a conversation with panelists around the heavy question of the ethics of protest with documentary filmmaker and media strategist Nancy Schwartzman (Roll Red Roll); UN Women Coordinator of the Unstereotype Alliance, Jennifer Cooper; social justice and community-building spearheader Rabbi Rachel Timoner; and documentary director and producer Kate Davis (Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland).

Nancy Schwartzman is a storyteller who uses documentary as a vehicle to break through the noise and address large issues, such as the destigmatization of sexual abuse. Her new film which premiered at Tribeca, Roll Red Roll, “takes a deeper look into the headlines of a notorious high school sexual assault to witness the social media ‘boys will be boys’ culture that let it happen and swept it under the rug.” Her film serves as a testament of where social media and technology can be apart of the problem, it can also be the solution. She also launched the most widely used and effective non-violence app in America called Circle of 6, which you can hear her speak more about in episode 4 of WeTalk.

Jennifer Cooper, who has worked at UN Women for more than 15 years in orchestrating the Unstereotype Alliance, a “global alliance set to banish stereotypical portrayals of gender in advertising and all brand led content,” discusses their aims in having the media reflect a more realistic portrayal of humanity.

Rabbi Rachel Timoner, who has been instrumental in social justice and community building amongst her neighborhood in Brooklyn, joins in the conversation to discuss how her role as a rabbi as it is to not only lead a community around the Jewish tradition but also make sure it is rooted in the deepest moral values. Timoner has launched several community social justice initiatives, which include public standings, in order to use protest strategically to wield the results wanted.

Kate Davis explains that she is a filmmaker whose storytelling gives voice to people whose stories are overlooked or misrepresented: “I love to peel back layers and dig at a deeper truth.” Davis mentions that it is a similar goal which drove her to tell the story of Sandra Bland in her documentary Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland. The film investigates the case of activist Sandra Bland, who died while in police custody after a traffic stop. Kate followed Bland’s family as they continued to investigate her death two years following the case; this documentary, which starts out as a murder mystery, becomes a social justice message.

Ondi kicks in adding that WeTalk was born out of a goal to not only change culture, but also to nudge it along.

Photo Credit: Jolene Siana
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Producer/director Ondi Timoner has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival twice. Her 2004 doc, Dig!, explores the star-crossed rivalry of the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, while her 2009 top prize-winner, We Live in Public, examines privacy in the virtual age through Internet visionary Josh Harris’ social experiments. Her company A Total Disruption releases weekly short docs about thought leaders and doers who are transforming our lives through technology.