“Parrhesia,” from the Greek, means “bold or fearless speech.” We are often taught to turn a blind eye to experiences of oppression. This is no more apparent than today when the United States sits in turmoil still arguing about whether or not racism exists. However, when our eyes are opened to oppression, we can be overwhelmed by a sense that individually we are powerless and the problem is too large big to be changed. PARRHESIA shows us though that we can take a stand against oppression, and that this kind of work is done every day through the regular choices we make as we live our ordinary lives. In the film, we meet eight “ordinary” individuals who share their stories about how they came to know oppression, how they act against it, and the costs and triumphs that come with speaking out.
This film was developed to generate conversation and exploration of concepts like privilege, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and social justice. It was inspired by the work of students from many walks of life who took on the challenge of answering very hard questions about how oppression has tried to direct their lives. We will see that while there are still many unsolved puzzles, just taking the steps to find the answers is an act of defiance against oppression. We invite the audience to go on this journey with us with the hope of creating these vital, if at times scary, parrhesiastic conversations.
PARRHESIA represents not just the vision of the directors, but the stand taken by everyone involved in this production. This documentary is unscripted, and it is the first time the directors have attempted to make a feature film. Ours is a low-budget, no-frills production; many involved volunteered their time and talents because in the end, we all believe in taking a stand against oppression and its many expressions. Each cast member had a say in how they are portrayed in this film. Every crew member had a voice in developing the film’s design. This film was a truly collaborative effort, the work of a community who chose to make media the way we want to make it, to show our stories the way we want them told. PARRHESIA is our expression of our lived truths. We risk ourselves in order to be ourselves, fully, even if this risk comes with potential personal cost.
The intention of the film is to create a counter-discourse to the norm of powerlessness against oppression, to show that there are many people who are invested in making change. The people in the film do not hold all the answers; in fact, several discuss their daily challenges in trying to take a stand and also address their fears and uncertainties with how to proceed. The film is meant to inspire dialogue and open audiences to the possibilities that they already have the ability to take steps, even if small, against oppression.