Astra Taylor’s documentary What is Democracy? asks, and seeks to answer the question…..”what is democracy?”. From that perspective, this film accomplishes its goal straight out of the gate, as it does in fact answer the very question it asks. What is does beyond that is widen the discussion of not just democracy, but how this government system helps its citizens that need it the most, and whether this system has reached its expiration date or not.

The film globe trots from Athens, where democracy first experienced its birth pangs, to Rome, and other places around the globe. If the goal of democracy is truly for people to rule, then is this something that we truly want? These types of questions are asked as the documentary looks at the darker side of democracy with it ever widening gap between the rich and the poor, different economic collapses, to the modern refugee issues in Europe to America’s racist past.

The film isn’t trying to undermine democracy looking at the harder truths, but using them as a springboard to inspire what an ideal democracy would look like by examining what the word means in the first place. The documentary features interviews with theorists such as Silvia Federici, Cornel West, Wendy Brown, and Angela Davis. It also talks to surgeons, activists, factory workers, asylum seekers, former prime ministers, and several others to look at this thing we call democracy.

Bonus Features that are included on this Kino Lorber release include deleted Scenes, a Q&A at the Jacob Burns Film Center, the film’s trailer, and an interview with director Astra Taylor on “The Dig” – a podcast from Jacobin Magazine. It is presented in 1.85:1, 16×9 aspect ratio, with audio in 5.1 Surround/2.0 Stereo. The film is in English with optional English SDH subtitles.