With all the recent and well-deserved attention on the work of Gene Sharp, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that a film about the foremost living strategist of nonviolent action is soon to be released. Still, that doesn’t make the news any less exciting.
As Jamila Raqib, executive director of Sharp’s Albert Einstein Institution, told me in an email, “We are pleased that this film—which has been in preparation for two years—is due to be released in the midst of this new unprecedented increased attention to our work.”
According to the filmmakers, How to Start a Revolution tells “the story of the power of people to change their world, the modern revolution and the man behind it all.” Along with testimony from key players and advocates, such as Retired U.S. Army Colonel Bob Helvey—who used Sharp’s methods to train activists in Venezuela, Burma, and Serbia—the film also contains user-generated protest videos from the streets of Tehran, Cairo and Tunis.
Although Raqib has yet to see the film in its entirety, she expressed great confidence in director Ruaridh Arrow’s ability to convey a “careful presentation of the development of Dr. Sharp’s decades-long research and writing, as well as how this work has been studied and used by diverse individuals and groups on nearly every continent.”
As it turns out, Arrow was in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the recent uprising—thus witnessing first-hand the far-reaching influence of Sharp’s work. This experience will undoubtedly make for a powerful conclusion to a film that will hopefully bring the importance of Sharp’s work to new audiences and inspire further reading.
“The hope,” Raqib said, “is that after viewing the film, people will then seek and access additional information and writings that can provide a more in-depth understanding of the subject matter.”