About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Desoni Cooper, Documentary Studies and Production with a minor in Finance, FLEFF blogging intern, Brentwood, New York
I had an informative phone conversation with a renowned journalist on March 2nd to discuss the work he has been doing since retiring from Ithaca College and about his newest documentary.
Jeff Cohen, co-producer of The Corporate Coup D'Etat and founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College (IC), taught in the Department of Journalism at IC for an entire decade.
Cohen writes columns for political commentary, advocates for progressive politicians such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and co-produces documentaries during his spare time.
His new documentary, The Corporate Coup D'Etat, explores the usurpation of power by companies over the last forty years while undermining democracy. "Even during the Obama administration, corporate interests continued to gain more political and economic power," says Cohen. Hollywood reporter refers to the film as “a horror film of the most realistic kind.”
“[The production team] interviewed former steelworkers in Ohio [who] voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries of 2016,” Cohen states. “And then they jumped to Trump — so to interview long time Democrats, [that] out of total despair and anger, took a chance on Trump is a fascinating aspect of the movie.”
Cohen also described how companies would exploit a region by building factories, getting taxpayers to pay for roads, making a lucrative profit and leaving the communities they took advantage of. These areas are referred to as 'sacrificed zones." The two places explored in the feature are Camden, New Jersey and Youngstown, Ohio.
“We wanted to show the human stories and that’s we went to the two sacrificed zone… including Youngstown, which was once a thriving middle class and a powerful union and it’s all gone now,” according to Cohen.
The production crew consists of Canadian filmmakers, which makes Cohen the only American producer. Meeting through their first film, All Governments Lie, an independent media and journalists-centered documentary who revealed government deceit, thought it was right to make a second film. Their recent movie The Corporate Coup D'Etat has been screening in Sedona, Arizona, where Cohen is staying. It will be screened twice in Tucson, Arizona, as well as in Detroit, Michigan following its FLEFF premiere.
When asked how this film aligns with FLEFFs theme INFILTRATIONS, Cohen responded, “My whole life has been trying to infiltrate by taking progressive ideas into the mainstream even when the mainstream media was trying to block those ideas.” He continued, “These movies that I’m involved with are movies that will not be produced by big corporate media outlets, they wouldn’t be distributed by big corporate outlets… its sort of a guerilla operation.”
The Corporate Coup D'Etat will be screened Wednesday, March 25 at 7:20 PM at downtown Cinemapolis. To discover more about Jeff Cohen, check out his webpage by clicking this link or going to jeffcohen.org.