Movie Review – Informant

Josette Madonia July 17, 2013 1

By Josette Madonia
Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org

darby_poster_featureInformant played at Film Bar in Phoenix as part of the Gathr Film Series. The Gathr Film Series plays every Wednesday at Film Bar.  The film series cost a couple dollars more than the usual screenings at Film Bar. Informant is a documentary about the activist life of Brandon Darby.

The films begins and ends with the voice of Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, talking about the case of Brandon Darby.

Brandon Darby working with Common Ground Collective.

Brandon Darby working with Common Ground Collective.

After Hurricane Katrina, Darby set out to find his friend Robert King Wilkerson, whom Darby calls King in the film. After seeing how the neighborhood where his friend lives was devastated – including black people being murdered by racist militias – and the lack of help the people in the neighborhood were getting from the government, Darby became involved with the Common Ground Collective. The Common Ground Collective was started by Malik Rahim, a community organizer and former Black Panther Party member and Scott Crow, an anarchist and organizer from Texas. The objective of the collective was to provide food, water and medical care to those affected by Hurricane Katrina and ultimately to the Ninth Ward.

However, after Darby enthusiastically traveled to Venezula to solicit money for the collective and to see revolutionaries, he returned with a different outlook and seemed to have a breakdown and suffer from post-traumatic stress.

It was after Darby started to pull back from his activism that he had an encounter with a Free Palestine activist, Riad Hamad. Darby went to the FBI concerned over Hamad’s activism and when Hamad ended up at the bottom of a lake, Darby turned to the FBI as the only people he could talk to.

This seemed to strengthen his bond with the FBI until Darby ultimately ended up in an investigation of the 2008 RNC protests in Minnesota where Darby friended some anarchists who were 10 years his junior. They looked up to Darby and wanted to impress him. However, when Darby turned on them and testified against them, he betrayed not only the young actvists protesting the RNC, but also his once-friends, Crow, Rahim and Wilkerson, who no longer consider Darby a friend. This once activist turned FBI informant went from wanting to go to prison to start a revolution, to speaking at Americans For Prosperity and Tea Party gatherings to talk about how he infiltrated the left.

Brandon Darby infiltrating the RNC protests.

Brandon Darby infiltrating the RNC protests.

In 2008, Darby wrote and Open Letter from Brandon Darby where he says,

There are currently allegations in the media that I have worked undercover for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This allegation no doubt confuses many activists who know me and probably leaves many wondering why I would seemingly choose to engage in such an endeavor. The simple truth is that I have chosen to work with the Federal Bureau of investigation.”

Darby, now writes for Andrew Briebart’s conservative webite, and after all was said and done, Darby was seen in the film locked in his house with an alarm and gun and fearful of the death threats he says he receives.

Movie trailer for Informant:

**Film Bar on their Gathr Film Series: “The Gathr Preview Series gives audiences in select cities the chance to see the best new independent cinema in theaters before anyone else – even before NYC and LA. Think of it as your year-round film festival, movie club, and mid-week date night all rolled into one! Every week, members can go to their local arthouse and experience a diverse range of comedies, documentaries, dramas and international movies curated from the major independent distributors’ upcoming releases. Gathr has partnered with our favorite arthouse theaters to create a unique entertainment experience. Join us, bring your friends, and be the first to see the movies everyone will be talking about!”**

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Further media related to Informant:
This American Life: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/381/turncoat
Scott Crow NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/us/29surveillance.html

Brandon Darby and breibart.com:

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/08/24/Brandon-Darby-on-Anarchist-Plans-for-the-RNC-Including-Taking-Down-the-City-s-EMS-System
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/07/30/Brandon-Darby-FBI-Ignoring-Sex-Trafficking-of-Minors
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/04/07/Brandon-Darby-s-Epic-Smackdown-of-Wonkette
http://www.breitbart.com/Columnists/Brandon-Darby?page=1

  • Josette Madonia

    After seeing Brandon Darby speaking in this documentary about helping the people of New Orleans “by any means necessary” and then seeing him turn FBI informant in his thirties, it made me wonder, why the big change? Was he searching for himself and where he fit in the world during his activism in the years prior? From our past experiences, I’m sure we can all say getting to know someone or “finding yourself” can lead us on a path with many unexpected turns. Was the deception and confusion felt by those who knew Darby part of this journey? Watching the film I thought of Adrian Lamo, a computer hacker arrested in 2003 for breaking into high-profile computer networks, who later turned Bradley Manning into authorities. Lamo even at one point donated some money to WikiLeaks. This documentary and stories like it made me think, not just how well do we know those around us, but how well do they know themselves?