Film Review: A Whisper to a Roar

By Meghan Hamilton

A Whisper to a Roar is a new documentary about five politically corrupt and socially torn countries—Malaysia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and Egypt—working to transform their government and the overall quality of life of their people. Writer, director, and producer Ben Moses follows the dangerous and courageous efforts of these ambitious community leaders as they protest, boycott, and campaign against their havocking and authoritative adversaries to break oppression and accomplish their ultimate goal: democracy.

Moses’ inspiration for the film was sparked by Larry Diamond, the film’s executive producer, and his book The Spirit of Democracy. Moses wanted to bring Diamond’s ideas and incredible work in advocacy to the screen. Moses and Diamond, alongside Prince Moulay Hicham ben Abdallah, began to turn their vision into a reality. The five countries of focus for the film were chosen by Diamond intentionally to show that democracy can be universal and is not limited to the United States or other Western countries. The filming for the documentary came to a close in Egypt in 2010, beginning the challenging task of editing the countless hours of footage captured. In July of 2012 the film was complete.

The opening scene of the film, narrated by actor Alfred Molina, is a beautifully animated tale of a village trapped under the reign of a powerful and destructive dragon. One brave man from the village rises up against the dragon, defeating him and taking over his power. But once the power begins to feed the brave man’s ego, he too turns into the same tyrannous dragon he had once defeated. This tale leads us suitably into the real world “dragons” we are presented with in this documentary.

We follow the filmmakers as they captured the unyielding efforts of Malaysia’s Opposition Party leader Anwar Ibrahim, Ukrainian President Vikto Andriyovych Yushchenko, Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and Egyptian activists Esraa Abdel Fattah and Ahmed Maher. Perhaps the most inspiring of these movements took place in Venezuela where a group of student activists, led by Robert Patino, founder of the Non-Governmental Organization VotoJoven, risked their lives traveling and protesting urging people to vote for the change they so desperately need.

The animated tale ends as the poverty stricken village could no longer live under the rule of the terrible dragon. A village man, who had witnessed the killing of the last dragon, was nominated to defeat the dragon this time around. Instead of accepting the challenge alone, the warrior maintained the only way the dragon could be defeated was by the efforts of the whole village. That it was the armor of the dragon that is too powerful against the will of any man and it is that that must be destroyed, collectively. The conclusion of this tale functions as a segue into the documentary’s conclusion to the stories we had heard throughout.

The film moves quickly and packs an abundance of information into its 95 minutes with powerful, at times difficult to witness, footage and photographs. This is an inspiring documentary that will undoubtedly leave you eager to affect change.

For more information about the film, screening schedules, or to view the trailer, visit

Meghan Hamilton is the member services assistant for the American Humanist Association.