Film Archive

International Programme 2013
Grasp the Nettle Dean Puckett

An activists’ camp on London’s Parliament Square, caught between political struggle, plodding grassroots democracy, dubious allies, and police violence. An insider’s perspective on “Occupy”.

Grasp the Nettle

Documentary Film
89 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Daniel Erlacher
Dean Puckett
Leo Leigh, Lee Bruce, Duncan Sangster
Dean Puckett
Paco Sweetman
Dean Puckett, Can Aniker
Jeet Thakrar
It’s always easy to make fun of green or protest movements if your own laziness keeps you from taking action against wrongs. That’s how the filmmaker Dean Puckett feels, too: seen from outside his own inertness is only bearable from a certain ironic distance. So he gives up his life, flat, and job to really learn how these groups work.
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, a few people in London team up to do more than call for a different, more sustainable life in the streets. In peaceful collaboration with the local residents, they found a kind of ecological village on a piece of disused land in West London. It’s a utopia with homemade tents, vegetable plots, and evenings around the campfire. When they have to give way to the excavators that come to prepare the ground for new apartment blocks, this ragtag band of activists, dropouts tired of civilisation, homeless people, and lunatics moves to the city centre to raise their tents on Parliament Square. All of a sudden, they are faced not only with the challenge of getting their own chaos under control but also with the humourless authority of the state.
Puckett has made a nuanced portrait of social experiments in times of crises, when formerly safe structures erode and the need for more freedom erupts in urban spaces.

Lina Dinkla