Alabama; Mobile — Millions of young people will take to the polls nationwide on Nov. 8 to cast their ballots in the midterm elections. However, there are some disillusioned with voting but are not just sitting around on their couch or on TikTok.
A new documentary released Thursday, “Extra Democratic: Solutions Outside of The Ballot Box”, showcases how Gen Z is remaining active in their communities and fighting for a better world without depending on established institutions.
The doc was created by GEN-ZiNE, a global grassroots media community for young people, and Saucier Films, a production company dedicated to high-quality content and mentoring future storytellers in developing accurate depictions of Black and Brown people on screen. The concept for the film can be credited to voting rights organizer and fellow, Evan Malbrough, who pitched the idea to GEN-ZiNE’s co-founder Anushka Joshi and managing editor Nikki Cohen.
“I originally pitched it as a written series about organizers in Atlanta and people trying to find solutions about people outside of traditional voting,” Malbrough told YR Media. “But Anushka and Nikki were like this should be a doc.”
While focusing on Atlanta due to the trailblazers that paved the way, ‘Extra Democratic’ wants to make it clear organizing in this generation will have to be distinct. It highlights the activism of six young people in Atlanta — Diamond Bradley, a historian/curator of art; Michelle Suave, a migrant activist; Kaylah Otes, a union activist; Iman Maxberry, an environmental activist; Shamar Barkley, an abolitionist; and Rupkatha Banerjee, a community fridge organizer.
The diverse group exemplifies the multitude of struggles, specifically, marginalized communities face and the skills that can be utilized to address those struggles.
From each of the activists questioning the idea of democracy to talking about their innovative work, at the heart of it all is the audacity to imagine.
To imagine the abolition of the police, to imagine immigrant justice, to imagine better wages for all, to imagine the ending of hunger. Youth is tied to this audacity and Joshi says that she hopes young people come away from the documentary inspired and empowered to make the change they envision is possible.
“Something that Shemar said in the documentary was how abolition is about stretching your mind to what you think is not yet possible,” Joshi said. “And … like our mission of rewriting the future is about what is the ideal world you want to live in. And especially when we’re students in college, I can only speak on behalf of myself, but we have a much more unfiltered imagination of what we want the world to be.”
Joshi, Cohen and Malbrough reiterate that they believe voting does matter but that is only one avenue to create change. Deliberately releasing the film five days before the midterms, they hope the doc will spark conversations about possibilities outside of voting.
“Something that I’ve taken away from this documentary is the power of the locals and the power of the community,” Nikki said. “And why funneling your energy and resources may bring about more immediate change that you may be seeking or you may not be getting from these elections every two years.”