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Informant (2012)

Brandon Darby , David McKay , Jamie Meltzer  |  NR |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Brandon Darby, David McKay, Scott Crow
  • Directors: Jamie Meltzer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Music Box Films
  • DVD Release Date: November 19, 2013
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,911 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

INFORMANT is a fascinating portrait of Brandon Darby, a radical left-wing activist turned FBI informant. In 2005, Darby became an overnight hero when he traveled to Katrina-devastated New Orleans and braved toxic floodwaters to rescue a stranded friend. Soon after, he co-founded Common Ground, a successful grassroots relief organization. But over the next few years, he began hiding a shocking secret. After two young protestors were arrested at the 2008 Republican National Convention, Darby revealed he had been instrumental in their indictment as an FBI informant. Today, having renounced his left-wing past, he is a tea-party darling who writes regularly for the right-leaning web site The only film with access to Darby since his public confession, INFORMANT meticulously constructs a picture of Brandon's life - before and after the many death threats he has received - through interviews and tense reenactments starring Brandon himself. Darby's version of events is accompanied - and often contradicted - by evidence from acquaintances and expert commentators, posing complicated questions about trust and the nature of reality. As David Hanners of St. Paul Pioneer Press suggests, "When you interview people about Brandon Darby, you realize that everyone has a different idea of who he is. In addition to trying to unlock the mystery of Darby, INFORMANT offers an powerful insider look at the hidden use of informants in contemporary America - an especially timely issue in light of the recent leaks about government surveillance.

Customer Reviews

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating September 22, 2013
Format:Amazon Instant Video|Verified Purchase
This documentary is, at its core, about the stories people tell to themselves and others about their actions and place in the world. The director did a terrific job letting Mr. Darby express the painful and emotional arc of his career as an activist then an informant, juxtaposing his former anarchist and leftist friends throughout as contrary and interrogative voices. The film pressed home for me the messy and contingent nature of the political and moral spheres - yet for all that, at the end of the day, we are still compelled to act by what our best lights demand of us. That is the moral of Mr. Darby.
I would have liked to have seen more on what attracted Darby to Andrew Breitbart's Tea Party conservative populism. The irony that the so-called Tea Party is more in line with his original populist, anarchist, grassroots ideals than the Leftist power structures he came in contact with is a rich mine for, I hope, more analysis in future works.
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Excellent film about an FBI agent-provocateur who infiltrated left-wing activist groups in Austin, Texas and New Orleans. The director provides the informant with plenty of camera time, enough to hang himself. Unfortunately, Darby continues his work as a right-wing agent and apparently has had some role in stirring up right-wing attacks against Obama about the humanitarian crisis of child immigrants on the Texas border.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Learning from Brandon Darby April 26, 2014
Format:Amazon Instant Video
I watched this documentary the day after the `NATO 3' -- the three loudmouthed activists who were charged as terrorists after being encouraged by undercover police officers to pour gasoline into empty bottles during the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago -- were sentenced to several [more] years of prison.

The NATO 3 case is very similar to a case during the 2008 Republican National Convention when a couple of young activists were arrested and sent to prison after creating some Molotov cocktails which they intended to use to damage empty police cars. In that case, the suspects were betrayed by an FBI informant who was a member of their activist group and acted as their mentor.

That informant, the infamous Brandon Darby, is the subject of this excellent documentary by Jamie Meltzer. In his review of Informant for his Vice blog, DJ Pangburn calls it an "unnecessary film" and a "failure of a documentary" charging that it merely provides Darby with a platform from which to spout his narratives. As Panburn puts it, "it's Brandon Darby's world, and we all are just living in it."

Kris Hermes, in his review on Huffington Post, makes the same complaint, that Meltzer allows Darby too much control of the film's narrative: "it's almost as if Darby decided one day to call up his friend Jamie Meltzer to let him know about a great movie idea." Allowing him a voice in yet another documentary, Hermes asserts, merely fortifies Darby's cult of personality

And they're right, the film is largely a mouthpiece for Darby (although it also provides context and tells the story through entertaining re-enactments and interviews). But that's also what makes the film so valuable -- not to mention just plain interesting.
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