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The Film

"Gene Sharp is the most important man you've never heard of."  

How to Start a Revolution is a BAFTA Award-winning British documentary film about Nobel Peace Prize nominee and political theorist Gene Sharp, described as the world's foremost scholar on nonviolent revolution. The 2011 film describes Sharp's ideas, and their influence on popular uprisings around the world. Screened in cinemas and television in more than 22 countries it became an underground hit with the Occupy Wall St Movement

Directed by British journalist Ruaridh Arrow and produced by Richard Shaw, the film follows the use of Gene Sharp's work across revolutionary groups throughout the world. There is particular focus on Sharp's key text From Dictatorship to Democracy  which has been translated by democracy activists into more than 30 languages and used in revolutions from Serbia and Ukraine to Egypt and Syria. The film describes how Sharp's 198 strategic approach and methods of nonviolent action have inspired and informed uprisings across the globe.

the film
The facts
The mission


"How to Start a Revolution is used in trainings by democracy groups around the world."

How to Start a Revolution was released on 18 September 2011 the day after the first Occupy protests in Wall St, New York. The film was described as the unofficial film of the Occupy movement and shown in camps across the US and Europe. It was one of a number of high-profile events held in London's Bank of Ideas along with a concert by British band Radiohead.

In 2012 following the Mexican general election one of the country's largest newspapers reported that protestors were circulating a pirated Spanish translation of How to Start a Revolution which had gone viral in the country. The translation was viewed over half a million times in the space of three days. Reports have also been published citing the airing of the film on Spanish television concurrent with widespread discussion of Sharp's work in the Spanish anti-austerity 15-M Movement and the movement for Catalan independence.

The academic premiere was hosted by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School on 11 October 2011 and In February 2012, How to Start a Revolution was screened to an audience of MP's and Lords in the UK Houses of Parliament by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues which was attended by Gene Sharp.

A film about the making of How to Start a Revolution, entitled Road to Revolution, was screened in January 2012 by Current TV in the UK.

On January 22, 2017, after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the PBS America channel screened How to Start a Revolution immediately after a Frontline investigation into his election. 

All this was made possible with the generous help of our Kickstarter donors who helped us raise over $60,000 in just under a month.  Their generosity when we needed them most has taken the film further than we could have possibly imagined. 


"A World Conquering Documentary"

How to Start a Revolution was premiered in Boston on 18 September 2011, the day after the Occupy Wall St protests officially began in New York. The film received a standing ovation and won Best Documentary and the Mass Impact award at Boston Film Festival and went on to be screened by Occupy camps across the US and Europe including at the Bank of Ideas in London.

The European premiere was held at Raindance Film Festival in London where the film received the award for Best Documentary. Subsequent awards have included Best Documentary Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival 2011, Special Jury Award One World Film Festival Ottawa, Jury Award Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival and Best Film, Barcelona Human Rights Film Festival. The film won the Scottish BAFTA for new talent in 2012 and was also shortlisted that year for a Grierson Award and the Amnesty International Golden Butterfly.

How to Start a Revolution was picked up for distribution by TVF International and has screened on dozens of television stations worldwide including PBS America, NRK Norway, Deutsche Welle Germany, TVE Spain, NHK Japan, Canal+ France, and Al Jazeera.  The film has  been translated into eleven languages, including Arabic, Spanish, Portugese, French, Norwegian, German, Swedish, Mandarin Chinese,  Japanese, Korean and Russian. 

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