Monday, February 4

Premieres ArchiveSpecial Engagements Archive

What Is Democracy?

Theatrical Premiere Run

Filmmaker in Person Friday, February 1st at 7:00

Friday, February 1 – Tuesday, February 5

2018 • dir Astra Taylor w/Silvia Federici, Zoe Konstantopoulou, Cornel West, Wendy Brown, Angela Davis, Henry M. Micheaux, Jr. • 107 min • DCP

From the director of Zizek! and Examined Life!

Coming at a moment of profound political and social crisis, WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? reflects on a word we too often take for granted. Director Astra Taylor’s idiosyncratic, philosophical journey spans millennia and continents: from ancient Athens’ groundbreaking experiment in self-government to capitalism’s roots in medieval Italy; from modern-day Greece grappling with financial collapse and a mounting refugee crisis to the United States reckoning with its racist past and the growing gap between rich and poor.

Featuring a diverse cast – including celebrated theorists, trauma surgeons, activists, factory workers, asylum seekers, and former prime ministers – this urgent film connects the past and the present, the emotional and the intellectual, the personal and the political, in order to provoke and inspire. If we want to live in a democracy, we must first ask what the word even means.

“★★★★! Serves as a sharp reminder to pay attention to politics and to remember that the personal and the local are political.” – The Guardian

“Taylor’s take on the topic is multi-layered, and one that if you don’t pay close attention to, you might miss. But once defined, can democracy ever live up to its promise? That’s something you’ll need to watch What Is Democracy? in order to figure out.” – Ayurella Horn-Muller, Film Threat

“From the ruins of Plato’s Academy to the police-choked streets of Charlotte, North Carolina, the heights of international finance to the dregs of the US prison system, Taylor gives us a glimpse of “what is really going on.” But more importantly, she also gives us a glimpse of the world that might be possible, and the wonders that might be achieved, when everyone is given a seat at the table.” – Drew Brown, Vice

About the Filmmaker

Astra Taylor is a filmmaker, writer, and political organizer. She is the director of the philosophical documentaries What Is Democracy?, Examined Life and Zizek!; the author of the American Book Award winner The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age; and a co-founder of the Debt Collective. She has written for The New York TimesThe London Review of BooksThe GuardianThe WalrusThe Bafflern+1, and many other outlets. She is a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and a former touring member of the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Her new book, Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, will be out from Metropolitan Books in early 2019.

Photo by Deborah Degraffenried.


Ticket Information:

Click a showtime to purchase tickets:

Friday 2/1
at 4:45, 7:00* PM  *Filmmaker in Person
Saturday 2/2
at 2:30, 4:45, 7:00 PM
Sunday 2/3
at 2:30, 4:45, 7:00 PM
Monday 2/4
at 4:45, 7:00 PM
Tuesday 2/5
at 8:00 PM

Brattle passes accepted. Special, Usher, and Producer members may reserve seats in advance [instructions]. Regular & Dual Members may redeem passes at the box office pending availability.