Half a world away from Cairo’s Tahrir Square, an aging American intellectual shuffles around his cluttered terrace house in a working-class Boston neighborhood. His name is Gene Sharp. White-haired and now in his mid-eighties, he grows orchids, he has yet to master the internet and he hardly seems like a dangerous man. But for the world’s dictators his ideas can be the catalyst for the end of their regime.
HOW TO START A REVOLUTION reveals the remarkable story of modern revolution, the power of people to change their world and the man behind it all. Quiet, unassuming, soft-spoken and barely known to the wider world, 83 year old Professor Gene Sharp has written the standard textbook for revolutionary leaders around the globe. Used by activists from Serbia to Egypt, from Ukraine to Syria, and now influencing Occupy Wall Street, one of Gene’s most important books ‘From Dictatorship to Democracy’ is nothing less than a handbook of 198 strategic ‘weapons’ that are used to topple dictators. Banned in many countries, his work has influenced a generation of revolutionary leaders who yearn for democratic freedom in Asia, throughout Eastern Europe, in the Middle East and now here in America.
This film explores how, in a few short years, a new wave of revolutionary spirit has swept across the world through a network of international activists, trainers and teachers. It reveals how the leaders of an uprising in one country train and inspire the participants in the next and explores how social media now threatens dictators around the globe in ways that were unimaginable just a decade ago.
We meet revolutionary leaders from Serbia, Ukraine, Egypt and Syria as they explain how they struggled to seize democratic power from the hands of dictators. And, as the world’s headlines turn once again to Egypt in Autumn 2011 for the first Presidential elections, HOW TO START A REVOLUTION is an inspiring exploration of the power of people to change their world.