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The Independent Critic

Brittany Ferrell, Karina Arango, Robert Elam, Karissa Anderson, Amber Overton, Faith Sandler, Derion Tabb, Jocelyn Posos
Dan Parris
85 Mins.

 "Show Me Democracy" Set to Screen at Heartland Film Festival 
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Director Dan Parris returns to the Heartland Film Festival with his latest feature doc, Show Me Democracy, a film shot and recorded amidst the Ferguson uprising and featuring seven St. Louis college students and how they evolved into advocates and activists as they grew into their voices and demanded change through policy and protest. Parris's previous film, What Matters? (Screened at Heartland under the title Give a Damn?), had its world premiere at Heartland in 2011. 

If there's an unexpected aspect to Show Me Democracy, it's the rather remarkable normalcy that permeates virtually every moment of the film as Parris's camera follows these seven young people as they become involved in an advocacy internship with the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, an organization led by Faith Sandler that goes far beyond protesting on street corners into the realm of fighting institutionalized racism and injustice through education, empowerment, advocacy and raising up individuals like these seven individuals who already have the voice but learn how to use it more effectively. 

While the media likes to play up the harsh dramatics of the events that have unfolded in Ferguson, Show Me Democracy excels at showing the humanity behind it and the history behind it. The film's central message is, perhaps, that our engagement matters and it's rewarding to learn that the program portrayed here has continued to grow and the Active Advocacy Program has received funding to grow the program to 100 students statewide. The students, as well, are proving to take this opportunity and grow into their potential by either furthering their education or obtaining new jobs. 

In other words, the program works. 

While there is certainly anger to be found in Show Me Democracy, the overriding impact of the film feels like hope. These young people are intelligent, well spoken and inspired to change their lives and their communities and it's an approach to the Ferguson story that is important and, unfortunately, all too often left on the sidelines in favor of higher dramatics. 

Show Me Democracy is an official selection of the 2017 Heartland Film Festival and director Dan Parris will be in Indianapolis in support of the film. Hopefully, you'll show up in support of the film as it's an important doc telling a rather inspiring side to what you may think is a familiar story. For more information on the film, visit the film's website linked to in the credits. 

For more information on screenings during Heartland, visit the Heartland Film Festival website

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic