Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"Cartoonists: Foot Soldiers of Democracy"

I went out last night to a screening of a French documentary film about political cartoonists that was organized by the Atlanta Press Club, and as I walked to my car, I felt a little surge of life!

It’s easy to see why. I went to see a film. And not just a film but a documentary. Moreover, a documentary film in French! About cartoonists who are boldly lampooning politicians specifically and inequities in general.

Do I really need to say it was cool?

The film, “Cartoonists: Foot Soldiers of Democracy,” followed around a dozen cartoonists from across the globe as they observed their culture, including the explosive events they’ve chronicled through their drawings, and explained how they worked. It thoroughly captured what it was like to live in their worlds.

The cartoonists were interviewed in their native tongues – Arabic, French, Russian, Chinese, Spanish – as they worked, or in the case of the Russian cartoonist, as he danced in the countryside with friends. Imagine an aging Russian cartoonist dancing on the grass with friends!

The press club had several Georgia cartoonists on hand, including Rick McKee of the Augusta Chronicle. When I asked Rick about being in such an elite group, he said, “There are about 50 of us around the country left.”

There’s just something about the cartoonists’ ability to conjure up so much with just a small square of a drawing. And the stories they tell in the movie! Of being summoned by the KGB or banned from publishing or threatened. One scene included an interesting conversation between two cartoonists in Africa about the limits of what they could and couldn't publish. Spoiler: the scene includes a part of the male anatomy!

And as a board member of the Atlanta Press Club, I was super proud we could sponsor such a cool event!

I should also mention the French Consulate here in Atlanta was an important partner in pulling off the event. Now if only I could say that in French!

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