We Are Many, film review: Amirani's documentary shows scale of anti-war protests

(12A) Amir Amirani, 110 mins

Geoffrey Macnab
Thursday 21 May 2015 22:39
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Peaceful protest: A scene from We Are Many
Peaceful protest: A scene from We Are Many

As the British public continue to endure an interminable wait for the publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the UK's involvement in the Iraq war, Amir Amirani's documentary will jog memories about the sheer scale of the anti-war protests in Britain in February 2003.

The film is both inspiring – millions took part in what has been described as the largest global protest event in history – and dispiriting. "We had the biggest demonstration and nothing happened," points out the US political activist Tom Hayden. "We just didn't finish the job," agrees Blur's Damon Albarn.

The film-makers have interviewed an impressive cross-section of the key players during the rush to war, from the UN weapons inspector Hans Blix to Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to the US Secretary of State Colin Powell. From the British Parliamentary side, David Blunkett, Clare Short and Lord Falconer speak on camera but, unsurprisingly, Tony Blair declined to be interviewed.

There are anguished and impassioned contributions from figures such as John le Carré, Brian Eno, Mark Rylance and Ken Loach. Virgin boss Richard Branson explains how his plans to fly Nelson Mandela toBaghdad on a peace mission were thwarted. The upside, the film suggests in its conclusion, is that the politicians who blithely ignored the anti-war protesters in 2003 are now, at last, being forced to listen.

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