The Brandon Darby Story: “Informant” to be released September 13

Posted Monday August 26th 2013 by Jen Angel

On September 13, Music Box Films will release Jamie Metzler's film "Informant" in select theaters and through video streaming services. We are working with Music Box to promote this film, because we want activists to see it.

For those of you not familiar with Brandon Darby, the film centers on the transformation of Darby from a radical activist to an FBI enformant.  In 2008, it became public that the longtime Austin activist (and a co-founder of Common Ground Relief in post-Katrina New Orleans) had become an informant for the FBI, in a case that ultimately led to the conviction of two activists for activities during the protests surrounding the 2008 Republican National Convention. Darby has become a controversial and reviled personality, and has since become a part of the Tea Party community and is a conservative blogger for sites like Breitbart.com. The film is the first to tell the story from Darby's perspective, and is an intimate exploration of how someone could change their beliefs so radically. Counterpoint is provided in the film by Scott Crow and Lisa Fithian.

Even though Darby's case is a few years old, the recent Cleveland 4 and the Chicago NATO cases (not to mention the past use of informants in Green Scare cases) mean that the issues of how the government uses informants, how informants function, and the implications for activist communities have only become more urgent. While this is not a film made by activists, and though there are things I disagree with in the film, it is important for activists to see. It is a well made and covers a lot of ground, and makes a good companion to some of the existing material that already covers the same incidents (such as This American Life's episode "Turncoat" and the PBS film "Better this World").

The film premiers in theaters across the US and will be available through online streaming services on September 13. A list of theaters is available here: http://www.musicboxfilms.com/informant

If you are interested in reviewing the film, please contact Jen.

 

More about the film: 

The film's website: http://www.informantdoc.com/

“The Grand Jury Prize goes to a film that is thrilling from beginning to end, that innovates documentary form, that takes a small corner of America and looks at our widest issues. For its Rashomon-like investigation of a terrorist crime that did or didn’t happen, the Grand Jury Prize goes to Informant.” – DOC NYC Jury Statement

“An absorbing puzzle with the potential to intrigue viewers all along the political spectrum.” – Variety

“A kind of “Fog of War” for the age of Occupy” – Indiewire

Informant examines Brandon Darby, a radical activist turned FBI informant who has been both vilified and deified, but never entirely understood.

In 2005, Darby became an overnight activist hero when he traveled to Katrina-devastated New Orleans and braved toxic floodwaters to rescue a friend stranded in the Ninth Ward. Soon after, he became a founding member of Common Ground, a successful grassroots relief organization. After two young activists were arrested at the 2008 Republican National Convention, Darby shocked close friends and activists nationwide by revealing he had been instrumental in the indictment as an FBI informant.

As the only film with access to Darby since his public confession, Informant meticulously constructs a portrait of his life — before and after the death threats — through interviews with Darby and tense reenactments starring the man himself. Darby’s version of events are accompanied and often contradicted by commentary from acquaintances and expert commentators on various points along the political spectrum.

WINNER, GRAND JURY PRIZE at DOC NYC
WINNER, BEST DOCUMENTARY at AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER, BEST DOCUMENTARY at SEBASTOPOL DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER, BEST DOCUMENTARY at FARGO FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER, BEST EDITING at SALEM FILM FEST

 

Background on Brandon Darby and on the use of informants by the FBI and other government agencies:

•   "FBI Informant Brandon Darby: Sexism, Egos, Lies," The Rag Blog: http://theragblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/lisa-fithian-fbi-informant-brandon.html

•   Green is the New Red: http://www.greenisthenewred.com

•   "The Informants," Mother Jones: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/fbi-terrorist-informants

•   "Inside the FBI Entrapment Strategy," CrimethInc.: http://www.crimethinc.com/blog/2012/05/29/inside-the-fbi-entrapment-strategy/

•   "Turncoat," This American Life: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/381/turncoat

•   "Better this World," PBS: http://www.pbs.org/pov/betterthisworld/