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Viggo Mortensen urges Americans to look to history to understand current political climate

Source: CBS News.
Found By: Lindi

Thanks to Lindi for the find from CBS.


Viggo Mortensen believes in the importance of understanding our past. On the 55th anniversary of the March on Washington, the actor explains to CBS News why he believes the voices of people in American history can inspire us today.

Oscar Red Carpet 2017
Oscar Red Carpet 2017
Image Frazer Harrison.
© Getty.
by Andrea Park

Mortensen is reading passages from Howard Zinn's "Voices of a People's History of the United States" at SummerStage in New York's Central Park, alongside other notable performers, including Uzo Aduba, Marisa Tomei, Rosanne Cash, Hong Chau, Staceyann Chin and more, as part of a free show called "Voices of a People's History." Mortensen says he has been participating in various "Voices of a People's History" shows since the early 2000s.

The actor says of Zinn's work, "It's maybe as important as ever right now, when there seems to be a lot of division socially and politically in the country and an ideological hardening in terms of binary choice — one extreme or another. … I think it's always important in any democracy, anywhere, that voices of dissent, voices of opposition or at least voices that question the status quo and authority be heard."

Mortensen points out that some of the selections in the book are by people who fought successfully for freedom from slavery and the right to vote.

"They were up against a lot of harder things than we are now," he says. "It seems to me like it's a pretty divisive time and we need good reminders that even when things seemed to be stalled and there doesn't seem to be much farther communication, what these people communicated can maybe help us open that logjam we seem to find ourselves in now."

Mortensen, who frequently posts readings and quotes on his publishing website, plans to read a selection by Zinn and also one by friar Bartolome de las Casas, who documented Spanish mistreatment of indigenous people in the New World in the 16th century.

Mortensen says that people should look back to the March on Washington to appreciate the gains the country made during that time, and be careful not to lose them.

"I don't think we ever had a president who fomented as much division and ideological rigidity and conflict, who fanned the flames," he says. "There's a lot happening now that threatens the gains made by people represented in the book. That's why it's always good to hear these voices to read them and keep them in mind today. One, not to give up hope if you're disappointed about, two, if you're not informed about the history of the U.S. and what really has happened over the centuries leading up to now and why things are the way they are right now — why we have certain rights and certain laws in place — it has a lot to do with these people. They were hard-fought gains and things that are much more easily lost than gained. … Everything that's been gained through legislation, through people's rights, animal rights, environmental rights, is under siege at the moment."

He continues, "Life is not just about having stuff. Making money on Wall Street — that does not excuse the multitude of injustices happening. We can go backwards; we can take a lot of steps backwards if we're not careful and don't keep history in mind."

The actor says he is hopeful for a big turnout during the November midterm elections, but he also wants to see more grassroots activism.

Mortensen says the performers at SummerStage Tuesday night won't be going off script to slam President Donald Trump; the point is not to attack, but for audience members or readers to judge for themselves.

"What's great about these voices is they speak for themselves," he explains. "Whether they're about activists against the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 or whether they're from las Casas talking about the horrible treatment of the indigenous population when Europeans first came to colonize on these shores, no extra commentary is needed. You can connect those dots for yourself, and connect them to the president as you like."

Mortensen, who is also a poet, says the political climate occasionally seeps into his own writing as well.

"I don't live in a vacuum," he says. "The weather — physical and political — at any time when I'm writing affects me like it does most writers, I think."
His next film project is alongside Mahershala Ali in "Green Book." In it, he plays the driver for a black pianist in 1962. The actor says he doesn't intentionally seek out subversive films — in his last film, "Captain Fantastic," he portrays an anarchist father raising his children in the wilderness — but he does say that he looks for great storytelling.

"I wasn't looking for something political, but often, really great stories can't help but be connected to what's happening in the world," he says. "'Green Book' takes place in 1962, the year before the March on Washington, but there are clear resonances to what's happening now, to racial tensions, to social tensions and also class differences."

Mortensen says he thinks of "Green Book" as timely, even though it is set more than 50 years ago, and hopes viewers will learn more about civil rights from the film.

"Voices of a People's History" takes place from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in Central Park. Doors open at 6 p.m.

© CBS. Images © Getty.

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Top Hollywood Star: Think Outside the Box.

Source: Infowars.com.
Found By: Iolanthe
Thanks to Iolanthe for this report on Viggo's appearance on the Alex Jones Show.

Be an individual, not a cog in the machine.

Kit Daniels
June 21, 2013

Viggo Mortensen, a well-known American actor, artist, and polyglot, gave a powerful speech on the Thursday, June 21 edition of the Alex Jones Show, in which he emphasized becoming a creative individual in a world of collective conditioning.

A few days prior to the interview, Mortensen participated in the inaugural AMFM Fest in Coachella Valley, California, an independent film, art, and music festival.

In the interview, Alex asked Mortensen about his view on the growth of independent culture, which was well represented at the AMFM Fest.

"It's always been there and it's always going to be there," Mortensen responded. "It's just how much attention it gets? When people don't hear about it very much, they think it's dead or they think artists have pulled out."

At the AMFM Fest, Mortensen received the Dennis Hopper award, named after the late actor. Mortensen said he felt he earned the award because of his lifelong friendship and collaboration with Hopper, who was also a prolific photographer, painter, and sculptor.

"Dennis was always curious, even towards the end of his life," Mortensen said. "He always wanted to go see a new artist show or a new independent movie. He was curious, and curiosity is something we always have as kids."

Mortensen connects the curiosity of a child and the engagement of an artist as alternatives to indoctrination and conditioning.

"The function of artists is to keep people childlike in a positive way," he said. "To keep open to the world. Apart from traveling to different countries, to different communities, to different parts of your city, I think that art is one of the greatest anti-war and anti-poverty weapons."

"When your eyes are open and you see how other people live and how other people think and create, it's a lot less likely you're going to be convinced by your army captain or your president or your politicians that it's a good idea to go bomb this or that country, that it's a good idea to forget about this or that community or this group of people in your own country."

Later in the interview, Mortensen called for disconnecting from the virtual world of electronics in favor of the real world outside.

"It's true that you have to push yourself," he said. "I mean it's the same as getting off the couch and at least going for a walk. It's not always the first thing you want to do. You maybe rather stay on the couch and eat another bag of chips."

"Get off the phone, get away from the TV and so forth once in a while or regularly."

Mortensen ties this effort of being connected to the outside world to being connected to your own self, expanding your individuality rather than being influenced by others.

"If you're curious about what's going on in your community and what's going on in the world, you got to make an extra effort," he said. "Go listen to people and go read people you probably won't agree with, just to get the other side of it."

"Make up your own mind. The left, the right, all journalists, all commentators, have their spin, have their motivation. Make up your own mind. You got to make an effort. It's not just going to be handed to you by a computer without you making an effort to go look elsewhere."

In addition to his artistic pursuits, Mortensen also founded Perceval Press, an artistic publishing house based in Santa Monica, California.

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The People Speak

Source: cinando.
Found By: manianna
Categories: Social Change
Many thanks to manianna for finding the first look at the completed The People Speak:

Click on images to enlarge

© Cinema Management Group LLC. Images © The People Speak.

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The People Speak at TIFF 9-7-08

Categories: Social Change
Our own Ontario was fortunate enough to get tickets to the sold-out 'The People Speak' tonight and was most pleasantly surprised when Viggo unexpectedly showed up to take part in the question and answer session. She has graciously shared the experience with us.

Click on images to enlarge.

TIFF: The People Speak - 9.7.08
TIFF: The People Speak - 9.7.08.
© Ontario. Used by permission.
I have just returned from attending The People Speak with Howard Zinn and I have to say it has been the best experience of the Festival so far. I was lucky to get a ticket in the rush line which was all I was hoping for. I really wanted to hear Howard Zinn.

However, when we finally got into the Isabel Bader Theater, which is lovely, we were able to get an individual seat in the second floor balcony right over the stage. What a great theater. Not a bad seat in it. We had a direct view of the stage which had 8 leather chairs on it.

The announcer came out and said that there had been 6 people expected to attend and answer questions but that we probably noticed that there were extra chairs. Then he said that a young actress whose name I missed (sorry folks) and Viggo Mortensen were going to join Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Howard Zinn, Chris Moore and Anthony Arnove who was the Editor of the book to talk about the experience of reading for The film and that we were to be the first to see portions of the film which no one else has seen. When they announced Viggo there was tremendous applause. They then asked the guests to come up on stage. I think that they were seated right under where we were. I watched as they came down the aisle right beneath us from the back of the theater. The house lights were down and half way down the aisle Viggo stopped 'cause he realized that Howard who was behind him probably couldn't see much so he went back to try and help him on stage. It was really sweet.

In the small introduction the announcer asked each person about why they were involved in this project. When it came to Viggo they started to laugh and the announcer said, "Welcome to the angry left." It was not only a poke at his politics but also at his T shirt which he was happy to stand up and demonstrate to people. Of course it said, "Impeach, Remove, Jail." There was lots of applause and laughter around this.
TIFF: The People Speak - 9.7.08
TIFF: The People Speak - 9.7.08.
© Ontario. Used by permission.
At one point when Viggo was talking about why he was involved in this project he talked about people being afraid to speak out because they might make a mistake or look stupid. He got really involved in what he was saying and then he said, "In this country ...." and the announcer (who was very good) stopped him and asked, "Do you mean American or Canada" and he said, "Oh I am really sorry - I forget where I am, what day is this?"

It was really funny and everyone was laughing because he clearly did forget but it was obvious it was because he was passionate about what he was saying. A few minutes later, he stopped Howard Zinn and corrected him in the same mistake by saying,"In Canada, actually Ontario even though I am a Habs fan (Montreal Canadiennes). It was fun. Then Howard said, "In this country....." The joke went on all night.

Then they showed the pieces from the film. They are not done shooting this so we really were the first to see this material. I have to tell you I am not from the US but I was in tears with some of the material. This is a very powerful way to tell history, exceptionally moving and the tension in the theater was palpable. Viggo's reading was exceptional. I was afraid that he would mumble but it was loud, passionate and very clear. Wow! It reminded me of the speech on the horse at the Black Gate. Amazing but so were all the others. Marisa Tomei was exceptional as was Josh Brolin. Actually all of it was.

Howard Zinn then spoke about undoing the lessons of Viet Nam and how the media suppressed the real story in Iraq. He is quite amazing. The editor of the book Anthony Arnove was really interesting about how the actual film came to be because Howard insisted that actors reading were the way to get the material across, and then it went back to Chris Moore who talked about the fact that this audience was the first to see the material.
TIFF: The People Speak - 9.7.08
TIFF: The People Speak - 9.7.08.
© Ontario. Used by permission.
Then Viggo spoke about how you didn't want to get to the end of your life (his life) and think I should have done this or said that. We have to have the courage to say what we think and how wonderful it would be to have this kind of thing happen in other countries like Canada - a real history of the people and it would bring us all together. Then he said that with the election in the US there were all kinds of phrases and the one that stuck with him lately was the catch phrase "Country First" which sounds nice but what does that mean? And after a bit of dialogue he said really what that means is "Fu...k the rest of the world" which is not a good message. There was huge applause and laughter about that.

The moderator then took the program to questions from the audience and one lady asked if there was any negative reaction to the material and against them (the participants) in the US. There was some joking about showing it in Canada first 'cause they were afraid to show it in the States at which point Viggo took the mike and said we are all "rowing back to the States tonight."

At the end there was really a very warm reception from the audience. As we left the building out the back door we saw Viggo just walk out and down the street past the entire crowd waiting for Jennifer Aniston. He didn't even have a car or ride - just walked away. Amazing guy.

As an afterthought we waited after all the actors had left because Howard Zinn had not left. There were very few of us in the parking lot when the TIFF person came out and said that he was very tired and would we mind moving back a number of feet while he got into the car and please don't bother him. Of course we all moved back (we are Canadians after all) and when he came out we started to clap. As he was getting in the car, the lady who was helping him said, "Ahhw, they are clapping for you" and the next thing we saw was his hand reaching out and waving to us. How sweet is that? What a wonderful man.

Altogether a great experience!

© Ontario. Images © Ontario. Used by permission.

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Michael Moore's 2004 Election Tour To Be Released Online

Source: Cinema Blend
Categories: Social Change
MoveONPAC Rally - Columbus, OH 11.01.04
MoveONPAC Rally - Columbus, OH 11.01.04
Image Laura Rauch
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: 2008-09-23

Starring: Michael Moore

Directed by Michael Moore
Produced by Michael Moore, Monica Hampton
Written by Michael Moore

Visit the movie's Official Site!

NOTE: This film will not be released theatrically. Distribution will be online only through the film's official site.

In October 2004, just before the United States Presidential election, Michael Moore went on a 62-city tour through the undecided states to register and rally young would-be voters to vote for a change in our country. Michael was joined on tour by some of the U.S.'s most politically involved musicians and artists, including Eddie Vedder, Steve Earle, Roseanne Barr, Joan Baez, and Viggo Mortensen (to name a few). With visits to college campuses and other venues, this documentary showcases what the filmmaker calls "the birth of a new political generation."

© Cinema Blend. Images © MoveONPAC Rally - Columbus, OH 11.01.04.

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Last edited: 16 June 2019 09:17:17