Watch the segment discussing the Special Screening of Selections From The Bob Avakian Interviews On The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show, including a video excerpt from the talk back at the program, at minute 38:20.
Video provided courtesy of The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show.
The report below courtesy of revcom.us website.
October 23, 2023
On October 17, nearly 70 people filed into the Hudson Theaters in Hollywood, California for the first big-screen theatrical showing of a special selection from The Bob Avakian Interviews on The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show. The audience was made up of a diverse mix of people of different generations, including some who originated in Iran, Nigeria, Mexico and Peru, others from areas across Los Angeles from South Central to the Valley. Some had met the revolution out in the midst of different struggles, including the fight against the overturning of abortion rights last year and the more recent fight against the U.S.-backed slaughter of the people of Gaza. Others had seen a poster for the event or a post on social media.
Annie Day, the Director of The Bob Avakian Institute, welcomed everyone and spoke briefly to the dangerous times we are living in—climate destruction, the intensifying threat of nuclear war, the direct danger of all-out fascism being imposed in this country through the 2024 elections (if not sooner), and the recent eruption of Israel’s genocidal assault on the Palestinians trapped in Gaza. “You are in the right place!” she told the audience, as all these horrors only underscored the importance and urgency of coming together to listen to the voice of Bob Avakian, the revolutionary leader and architect of a whole new framework of human emancipation. Indeed, what drew together this diverse audience was a shared concern, even agonizing, over the many ways the future is threatened and a desire to engage the serious revolutionary answers Bob Avakian is providing and to learn from the example of his life and leadership.
With that, the lights went down, the screen lit up, and the audience settled in together to experience the incredible scope of concern, depth of science, uncompromising revolutionary determination and big-hearted love that Bob Avakian brought to the interviews he did on The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show. We got to see him reflect on how he transformed from a patriotic youth to a staunch opponent of America’s crimes and then the system as a whole. He broke down in clearly understandable ways what it means to be scientific and why this matters so much. He brought alive not only why revolution—the actual overthrow of the system of capitalism-imperialism—is the only way humanity can get free, but also why this revolution is more possible now than it has been in generations even as it does not seem that way on the surface. He took on the poisonous notion that “the ends justify the means” and spoke deeply to why the revolution we need to make must be rooted in emancipation for all of humanity, not revenge. In the final selections, Bob Avakian spoke directly and with incredible heart and confidence in those who are trapped at the bottom of society, catching the hardest hell, and fought hard with them to rise to their potential as emancipators of humanity, and he bared his soul in speaking about why he has never given up on the fight to make a real revolution and emancipate all of humanity. Along the way, Bob Avakian broke into song more than once, had the audience breaking out in laughter, and—by the end—had the theater erupting in applause.
Next, the documentary filmmaker David Zeiger was joined on stage by Andy Zee and Sunsara Taylor, the host and co-host of The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show who had conducted the interview with Bob Avakian. Andy opened the talk-back by calling out the crimes of U.S. imperialism backing the horrific slaughter and blockade of food, fuel, water, and medicine that Israel was inflicting on the people of Gaza. He underscored yet again why this intensified the importance of Bob Avakian’s leadership being engaged and even more widely known, precisely so that we can make the kind of revolution that will put an end to these kinds of crimes once and for all. Then, the three of them engaged in a rich exploration of questions provoked by the Interview and the urgent times we are in. These ranged from what are the “roads in” to joining the revolution for people who don’t yet know about it and aren’t even looking for revolution, to how to answer the growing despair so many feel in the face of climate destruction and the threat of nuclear war, to how to answer the depth of anti-communism that exists even among otherwise “enlightened” people. One theme that came through the answers that Andy and Sunsara gave to these questions was the incredible hope, inspiration, and revolutionary daring among growing numbers of people that can be opened up as more people are introduced to and engage the revolutionary voice and leadership of Bob Avakian and the vision of a whole new way to live that he has concretized in the Constitution he wrote for the New Socialist Republic In North America. One thing that comes alive as you listen to Bob Avakian, through the vision he brings alive and the strategy he has forged for revolution, as well as through his personal example over many years and the higher aspirations he awakens in others, is the possibility that people and the world could change radically and for the better. The audience was challenged to see how spreading Bob Avakian’s unique revolutionary voice very broadly throughout society could play a pivotal role in the fight for a better future and to step into fighting for this together with others.
The formal program was brought to a close with a heartfelt statement from David Zeiger on the special responsibility of Jewish people to speak out against the crimes Israel is inflicting upon the Palestinian people, as this slaughter is being done largely in their names.
The energy and hopes that had been awakened through the showing and the talk-back then spilled out into the theater’s cafe as audience members stuck around and mingled late into the night. Knots of people formed around Andy and Sunsara to dig in further to what they just heard. Members of the Revolution Club mixed it up with folks they hadn’t seen in a long time and others they were just meeting, inviting all to take part in an upcoming week to make a big advance in putting revolution on the map. Annie Day and others invited people to be part of a committee to spread the BA Interviews much more broadly.
As people snacked and got to know each other, some laughed and even cried as they opened up and explored the biggest questions facing humanity and how they saw their role in fighting for the future. Many of the young people were particularly struck by Bob Avakian’s incredible passion for others, how loving he was, and how much hope he seemed to have, even as they were still working to understand and figure out whether they agreed with all of what he said. One admitted that when his friend invited him, he was extremely skeptical, “But, it turns out I agreed with everything I heard!” He wanted to know how it could be possible to see the rulers of this most powerful country defeated and was impressed to see the five-part series BA has written, REVOLUTION: A Real Chance to Win and left with a copy. He said it gave him confidence that BA has been working on this since the 1960s and has clearly put in the work to know what he is talking about.
A middle-aged teacher from another part of the world reflected on how much BA opened up about his own process of learning and transforming in the interview and said he saw himself going through a similar process as Bob Avakian. BA started out religious, with religious parents, and changed over time to become a revolutionary and a communist rooted in science. The man speaking described growing up with two preachers for parents and how he has, through his interactions with BA’s work and the Revolution Club, been becoming less religious and more revolutionary over time. A Black man from South Central told the revcom who had brought him to the event that he had come intending to announce at the end that he’d be coming around less. However, after the evening, he had decided the opposite, that he’d be coming around much more going forward.
It had been a fight to bring these people together for the evening. Teams of revcoms had fanned out to different areas of the city to spread the word through posters, street corner agitation and other means to invite people to engage BA together at this special screening. They also had to struggle hard against the many ways that even people who deeply care about what humanity and the planet is being put through are reluctant to seek out answers outside the terms of this system and its elections and to step out of their comfort zones to hear from this revolutionary communist leader. Along with the work of the revcoms, it made a big difference when people like Grammy Award-winning Afro Cuban jazz musician Arturo O’Farrill, David Zeiger (the filmmaker who emceed the talk-back), writer Coco Das, and a number of people who are friends of the Chicago Revolution Club issued PSA’s expressing different perspectives on the importance of coming together to watch the BA Interviews.
In all, the evening revealed just a beginning taste of the tremendous power of seeing BA up close and in person on the big screen together with others sitting next to each other and then mixing it up together in person. The revolutionary leadership and example of Bob Avakian is a tremendous positive factor for lifting people’s sights and winning them to see the possibility of—and the need to join together to be part of—making revolution in this very high-stakes time for humanity. The experience of this first theatrical screening of the BA Interviews from The RNL Show needs to be multiplied across the country in a growing movement of collective showings in large and smaller settings. The struggle that began in the fight to bring this audience together, which was then deepened through what Andy Zee and Sunsara Taylor put forward during the talk-back and which continued through the lively wrangling and mingling that followed, for people to step into the fight now to get Bob Avakian known and his leadership taken up by many, many more people throughout all of society needs to continue. We are going into a crucial year that promises to be a turning point in shaping humanity’s future. There is little that holds more promise or could be more urgent.