Sundance Film Festival

Meet Liz Garbus director of SHOUTING FIRE

Meet Liz Garbus director of SHOUTING FIRE: STORIES FROM THE EDGE OF FREE SPEECH, an official selection in the Documentary Competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

SHOUTING FIRE: STORIES FROM THE EDGE OF FREE SPEECH
DIRECTOR: Liz Garbus
U.S.A., 2008, 80 min., color

During the 1950s, McCarthy’s red scare closed down avenues of dissent for a decade. Americans were pitted against one another. Political opinions became ammunition. Since 9/11, the First Amendment has again been under attack. Liz Garbus’s SHOUTING FIRE, a riveting exploration of the current state of free speech in America, is crucially relevant.

Interweaving historical cases—The New York Times’s fight to publish the Pentagon Papers and the Nazis’ insistence on marching in Skokie, among them—with contemporary free-speech infringements, the film documents the way both the Right and the Left have lashed out in fear. In the stories of a left-wing professor fired for provocative remarks about 9/11, an Arab American principal made to resign after discussing the word “intifada,” and Christian schoolkids suspended for wearing Bible-quoting T-shirts, there’s an ironic pattern. When threatened by an outside enemy, perceived or real, we often demonize each other, undermining the very freedom we seek to protect.

We think of First Amendment rights as inviolable; in fact, they’re profoundly vulnerable. Mixing vibrant pacing with an elegant journalistic style, Garbus orchestrates this urgent matter like a rallying cry for action. As her father, legendary attorney Martin Garbus, wisely warns, if we don’t fight for our freedoms every day, we will lose them.
—CAROLINE LIBRESCO