Culture Jam: Hijacking Commercial Culture

by Jill Sharpe
A fascinating rap on the 20th Century movement called Culture Jamming
2002  ·  Canada
English subs
About the Film

A new breed of revolutionary stands poised along our information highways waging war on logos and symbols. They’re “Culture Jammers” and their mission is to artfully reclaim our mental environment and cause a bit of brand damage to corporate mindshare. Director Jill Sharpe’s subversively savvy one-hour documentary film – culturejam – Hijacking Commercial Culture- bursts our last bubble of illusion about free speech in public space and gives us spanking brand-new hope at the same time.

Scream at the TV, but don’t touch that dial! Yet. In the hour long film, Culture Jam: Hijacking Commercial Culture, we follow three outlandish jammers; media tigress Carly Stasko, Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping, and Jack Napier with the Billboard Liberation Front. Armed with DIY anti-ad stickers, custom neon, and stuffed mice on crosses, these jammers hijack, subvert and reclaim corporate media space. Enter the intriguing worlds of midnight billboard raids and the mid-afternoon hijacking of public space. Ultimately Culture Jammers wage a war of “meaning”. They use the tools of the medium to re-wire the “message”. Will Disney’s Mickey represent a “world of laughter” or will he become the anti-Christ representing “sweatshop labour practices”. The verdict of public perception lies in a battle between billion dollar PR campaigns and guerrilla tactics of rebel activists.

A relatively young movement, contemporary Culture Jammers first appeared in the early 80’s in San Francisco. But court jesters of medieval Europe, and movements like Dada, Surrealism, and the Situationist International of Paris, as well as the recent range from punk to “post”, all provide a philosophical lineage for this new brand of rabble rousers. French Situationist Guy Debord declared in the 1960’s that we inhabit the “society of the spectacle” – where leisure and real living had been replaced by pre-packaged media simulated experiences. The moment has come for a new message to take back the medium. Through their interventions culture jammers make a spectacle of ad-culture. Hard hitting, controversial, wacky and engaging, this film captures the drama of jammers in action and asks: Is Culture Jamming civil disobedience? Senseless vandalism? The only form of self-defense left?

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Festivals and Awards
Slamdance Film Festival, Official Selection
Hong Kong Social Movement Film Festival,, Official Selection
Theatrical run at the Roxy in San Francisco, Official Selection
Commonwealth Film Festival, Official Selection
Singapore International Film Festival, Official Selection
Goteborg Film Festival, Official Selection
Sala Rekalde Art Gallery, Exhibition
Pacific Cinémathèque Vancouver, Official Selection
New Zealand International Film Festival, Official Selection
Vancouver International Film Festival, Official Selection
Canadian Gemini Awards, Nominated Best Social/Political Documentary
Canadian Gemini Awards, Nominated Best Picture Editing
ItalyLeeds International Film Festival, Winner International SASA Award
Vancouver International Film Festival, Winner Audience Choice Award
Auckland International Film Festival, Winner Audience Choice Award
British Columbian Leo Awards, Winner Best Documentary
British Columbian Leo Awards, Winner Best Editing for History/ Biography/ Social/ Political Documentary
Ireland International Film Festival, Official Selection
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Official Selection
5th United Nations Association Film Festival, Official Selection
Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montreal, Official Selection
Global Visions Film Festival, Official Selection
REVelation Perth International Film Festival, Official Selection
In the Press
Jill Sharpe
Bonni Devlin
Jill Sharpe, Lynn Booth & Maureen Levitt
Sound Editor
Soundtrack Composer
Jill Sharpe
About the Director

Jill Sharpe

Since the early 1990’s director Jill Sharpe has created an award winning body of work in the documentary genre which has been presented internationally at film festivals and along broadcast airwaves in over 20 countries. Highlighted in Queue Magazine as one of the Top 21 Artists for the Twenty First Century who could change the face of BC culture, Sharpe’s interests span the issues of social justice, media and culture.
Short selected filmography:

-2011 “Bone Wind Fire” (30 mins) – a hybrid drama/doc/animated exploration of the creative processes of  three of the the 20th century’s most remarkable artists – Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe adn Emily Carr.    Best Canadian Film, International Festival of Films on Art.   Best Short Documentary, Sonoma International Film Festival.   Artistic Innovation Award, Women in Film and Television Vancouver.   Screened at International film festivals in: Vancouver, Victoria, Buenos Aires, Sao Palo, Rio de Janiero, Seoul, Newport, Santa Fe … and continuing.

-2007 “Corporations in the Classroom” (46 minutes) investigates the upside and downside of increasing corporate influence on public education in North America. New release premiering at DOCSDF Film Festival in Mexico City. Aired on Global Televsion in Canada. Director: Jill Sharpe

-2005 “Girls Don’t Fight” (46 minutes) provocatively explores women’s recent entry into what has long been considered a male domain: the fight rings of sport. Nominated for a Leo Award and Gemini Award: Best Sports Documentary. Aired on CTV in Canada. Director: Jill Sharpe

-2004 “Weird Sex & Snowshoes: A Trek Through the Canadian Cinematic Psyche” (60 minutes) bilingual documentary celebration of Canadian Cinema showcasing 70 films and interviewing Canada’s top 21 feature directors. Won the 2nd Audience Choice Award at the Whistler International Film Festival. It also garnered a Leo Award nomination for Best Arts documentary. Aired on The Movie Network , Bravo and Movie Central, Canada. Director: Jill Sharpe

-2002 “CultureJam: Hijacking Commercial Culture” (57 mins) delivers a fascinating rap on the 20th century movement called “Culture Jamming”. Won the Audience Choice Awards at both the Vancouver and Auckland International Film Festivals and was selected for over 35 international festival screens. Nominated for the prestigious Donald Brittain Award for Best Social Issue Documentary, it went on to win the Leo Award for Best Social Issue Documentary & Best Editing. Aired on CBC Newsworld and Vision TV, Canada and TRIO network in United States. Director: Jill Sharpe

-2002 “In the Company of Fear” (52 mins) about the power of non-violent action in the face of state terror, profiling the work of protective accompaniment in Colombia. Nominated Best Political DOC at the Canadian National Hot Docs Awards 2000; invited to over 20 International Film Festivals including the United Nations Film Festival in San Francisco, aired on Vision TV. The film is directed by Veclrow Ripper and written and produced by Jill Sharpe.