Skip to content

Directed by Astra Taylor

Canada, United States 2018 117 mins. In English

The question posed by the title of Astra Taylor’s (Examined Life, Zizek!) latest documentary is undoubtedly a huge one with massive implications for contemporary global society—but this piercingly forthright and wide-ranging film is surely up to the task. Shot over several years, What is Democracy? seeks to answer some of civilization’s most pressing questions, using illuminating interviews with such luminaries as Silvia Federici, Wendy Brown, Cornel West, and many others to expand our knowledge of this well-spread political system and give us some sense of its future in the age of Trump and Brexit. Beyond the experts, however, Taylor’s focus expands to the immigration crisis currently gripping Europe and the US, fashioning a brilliant film that will leave your mind churning with ideas. What is Democracy? “serves as a sharp reminder to pay attention to politics and to remember that the personal and the local are political.” —Charlie Phillips, The Guardian.

Filmography: Zizek! (2005), Examined Life (2008)

Sponsored by Consulate General of Canada and Rogue Ales and Spirits

*The Northwest Film Center and the Consulate General of Canada invite you to be our guests at a special 42nd Portland International Film Festival Closing Night reception preceding Astra Taylor’s documentary What is Democracy?
Free reception admission with any PIFF 42 ticket stub or Festival Pass!
Thursday, March 21, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Portland Art Museum Fred & Suzanne Fields (Sunken) Ballroom
1119 SW Park Ave.

Specialty cocktails provided by Bulleit Bourbon, Ketel One Botanical, and Tanqueray London Dry Gin; with Elk Cove Winery, Adelsheim Vineyard, Pike Road Wines, Rogue Ales and Spirits, and ChefStable catering.

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.