Come September

Issue 

We — video documentary featuring Arundhati Roy
Created & distributed on the internet anonymously
Download free at <http://www.weroy.org> or order a DVD for a small donation
DVD version produced by Joe Alamo, New York

REVIEW BY LACHLAN MALLOCH

"I'm a writer, so I've actually written what I want to say ... because I'm sure that you must be much more interested in the way I write than in the way I speak".

Not so, Arundhati Roy. For some time I've had in my possession your Come September speech, delivered in Santa Fe, New Mexico on September 18, 2002. Even though it's a good piece of writing, I never imagined the printed version would be transformed into such a dynamic and stirring video as We.

This is an unusual kind of "underground" production. An anonymous sympathiser has edited a video recording of Roy's speech over 64 minutes, interspersing an impressive array of archival footage to illustrate themes and specific historical events. Contemporary music overlaid throughout the piece shifts the mood and quickens the pace.

The result is a visual essay rather than a traditional documentary, perfectly suited to its creator's intentions, which is to spread the anti-imperialist, social justice politics of Arundhati Roy everywhere.

Roy offers us an array of acute observations in Come September, so many gems for understanding the world today.

National flags are used by governments "first to shrink-wrap people's minds and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead", she says.

And on corporate globalisation: "What the free market undermines is not national sovereignty, but democracy. As the disparity between rich and poor grows, the hidden fist has its work cut out for it ... corporate globalisation needs an international confederation of loyal, corrupt, authoritarian governments in poorer countries to push through unpopular reforms and quell the mutinies."

The most topical aspect of We is Roy's elucidation of the multiple significance of the date of September 11 around the world.

The British mandate of Palestine was declared on September 11, 1922, backed by its imperial army "at the gates of Gaza". The Palestinians' ongoing struggle for justice unfolds on screen before us.

General Pinochet in Chile launched his US-backed coup on September 11, 1973, leading to thousands being murdered and thousands more "disappeared".

It was on September 11, 1990, that Emperor George Bush I announced to Congress his government's plans to go to war against Iraq.

And the most notorious September 11 — the bombing of the twin towers in 2001, was used by Emperor George II "to fuel yet another war ... by cynically manipulating people's grief, by packaging it for TV specials ... what we are seeing now is a vulgar display of the business of grief, the commerce of grief, the pillaging of even the most private human feelings for political purposes".

You really must see this video for Roy's meaning to fully come alive. Sadly her final words didn't make the cut, so let's share their inspiration again here: "Another world is not only possible, she's on her way. Maybe many of us won't be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing."