An Independent Mind


Rex Bloomstein’s feature documentary about freedom of expression. Filmed in 13 different countries.

Credits: Line Producer, Unit Director (Mali), Camera Operator (Algeria, China)

Production company: Rex Entertainment (2008)

Film synopsis:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

How do you deal with the threat of imprisonment for drawing a cartoon of your president? How do you survive being sent to a labour camp for telling a joke? What is the impact of being tortured for writing a poem? Or of being forced into exile for singing a song?

These are some of the stories you will encounter in AN INDEPENDENT MIND, a unique feature-length documentary inspired by one of the most fundamental and controversial of human rights: Freedom of Expression.

Enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights of all. It is the very cornerstone of democracy and underpins the values of any ‘free’ society.

But with the emergence of new threats that challenge the balance between the security of the state and the freedom of the individual, it is increasingly coming under attack.

AN INDEPENDENT MIND begins with quoting Article 19 as the ideal encapsulated in the Declaration. It then presents the realities faced by a succession of characters attempting to exercise their right to freely express themselves in different parts of the world.

Through these encounters, the film explores in human terms the importance and complexities of freedom of expression and its acceptable limits.

The approach is direct. There is no commentary. Each character relates his or her own story. Each is self-contained and is not inter-cut with the others. Eight individual voices that together magnify one profound central theme.

By asking what it takes to be a cartoonist in Algeria, a comedian in Burma, a poet in Syria, a journalist in Guatemala or a protest singer in Ivory Coast, director Rex Bloomstein underlines to us how fortunate we are in the free and democratic West.

But it’s not all so comfortable.

The revelations of the sex blogger in China, the Basque rock group in Spain and the British revisionist historian will challenge your assumptions about the right to freedom of expression and focus your mind on one of the most urgent and relevant debates of modern times. Above all, it is a film that will make you reflect – on the importance of the free dissemination of knowledge, opinion, art and, significantly, its limits. It is guaranteed to get you talking…

With the bodyguards, Bogota, Colombia
Crew in Guatemala
Filming in Guatemala
Filming in Moscow
With the Moustache Brothers, Mandalay, Burma
With the Moustache Brothers, Mandalay, Burma
Moustache Number 1, Par Par Lay
With Soziedad Alkoholika, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country
Soziedad Alkoholika, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country
Crew in the Basque Country
Tiken Jah Fakoly, Bamako, Mali
Mu Zimei, Beijing, China