10 October 2007

Chicago 10

This is the kind of movie you hope to see when you go to a film festival: creative, surprising, inspired and inspiring. This movie tells the story of the Chicago 8 (sometimes called the Chicago 7, but this leaves out Bobby Seale, the Black Panther who was bound and gagged in court, and then severed from the case early on). The defendants were accused of traveling across state lines to incite a riot. The movie title counts 10 to include the two lawyers, William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass, who were (along with the defendants) convicted of contempt.

The movie uses archival footage, music, and (most surprisingly) animation to tell the story of the 1968 protests in Chicago and the subsequent trial. You can't believe what you're seeing, but everything is based on transcripts, so you know at least the words are true. While I was not enamored of the music, on the whole this is a splendid recreation.

The director, Brett Morgen, was present after the screening and answered some questions. Ever concerned about accuracy, I asked about the basis for the visual portion of the animation. He discussed all the research they did to try to recreate the courtroom.

People asked questions about surprising things. One man asked whether Morgen felt his film was a "balanced" portrayal. Victor yelled out, "What other side is there? They were all acquitted later!" A woman asked whether Morgen really felt that all the humor was appropriate. Another woman asked what movies inspired Morgen in making this movie; when he said none, another woman accused him of dissembling, because he had used footage from Medium Cool.

Strange audience but great movie.

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