The 2016 United States presidential election was marked by an unprecedented tone of bitterness, gossip and hate-mongering. In spite of these elements of divisiveness, the vast majority of American voters seemed to share a central desire: the end of establishment politics. For many, the figurehead of this movement was Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and self-described "democratic socialist" who narrowly lost the Democratic Party's nomination for president.
The documentary Still Berning examines the resonance of Sanders' message, and how the political revolution he inspired may thrive among the masses long after this election season.
The Sanders platform was built upon the notion of giving power back to the people. During his campaign, he advocated for free college tuition, a doubling of the minimum wage, greater income equality, an end to the corporate stronghold over the political process, and a government that is more representative of the people it serves. Younger voters were particularly drawn to this message and drove his meteoric rise on the national stage. In order to tap into this audience and engage them into action, the Sanders camp utilized modern-day digital outreach as a cornerstone of their campaign.
The film features in-depth interviews with some of the most influential figures behind this strategy, including the chief directors of his online digital efforts. A revealing new conversation with Sanders' wife Jane is also featured in the film, during which she reflects on the highs and lows of the campaign, and enthusiastically opines on the crucial steps going forward.
While Sanders' bid for a White House run was ultimately unsuccessful, his mission to transform American politics endures. Our Revolution, a group that was co-founded by Jane Sanders, works to promote continued vigilance in the push for progressive change. As this platform continues to grow, the footprint of the Sanders movement will be assured for many years to come.
Produced by VPRO's highly acclaimed Backlight series, Still Berning is a thoughtful investigation into the appeal of Bernie Sanders and the ideologies that continue to activate his supporters. It's a message that continues to wield great power and influence over American political discourse.
Directed by: Kasper Verkaik