How To Start a Revolution: A New Film About Gene Sharp

By Bryan Farrell 03-21-2011

1100318-genesharpWith 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 Robert 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."

[This article appears courtesy of a partnership with Waging Nonviolence.]

Bryan Farrell is a New York-based writer, covering topics that range from the environment and climate change to foreign policy and militarism. His work has appeared in The Nation, In These Times, Plenty, Earth Island Journal, Huffington Post, and Foreign Policy In Focus. Visit his website at

Don't Miss a Story!

Get Sojourners delivered straight to your inbox.

Have Something to Say?

Add or Read Comments on
"How To Start a Revolution: A New Film About Gene Sharp"
Launch Comments
By commenting here, I agree to abide by the Sojourners Comment Community Covenant guidelines

Must Reads