July 01, 2008

Election Day at Pine Ridge

Election Day--About the FilmForget the pie charts, color-coded maps and hyperventilating pundits. What's the street-level experience of voters in today's America? In a triumph of documentary storytelling, P.O.V.'s Election Day combines 11 stories—shot simultaneously on November 2, 2004, from dawn until long past midnight—into one.

To make Election Day, award-winning director Katy Chevigny fielded 14 film crews to capture the action vérité-style in a diverse range of locations, including Chicago; the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota; Dearborn, Mich.; Cincinnati and Shaker Heights, Ohio; Orlando and Quincy, Fla.; St. Louis; New York; the little town of Sapulpa, Okla.; and the even tinier Stockholm, Wis. Election Day is as fast-paced and suspenseful as a thriller, with vote counts and political activism substituting for shootouts and car chases. The heroes of the day are ordinary Americans determined to vote, to turn out others to vote, and to see that the voting is legally and fairly done.
What the documentary found:[C]lose scrutiny of American elections finds a surprisingly antiquated system, which often works as much to frustrate voter participation as to encourage it and which harbors wide disparities in access between rich and poor neighborhoods. The presence of international observers suddenly seems not so out-of-place when one observer finds confusion and two-hour waits in St. Louis's poor, predominately black precincts while wealthier white neighborhoods have smoothly operating polling places.

Election Day takes viewers around the country to capture the drama unfolding on November. 2, 2004. In Chicago, Republican committeeman Jim Fuchs swims against the city's legendary political tides to make sure Republican voters aren't intimidated at prevailingly Democratic polling stations. At Pine Ridge, S.D., Jason Drapeaux leads a volunteer organization working hard to increase voter turnout on the reservation. He and his cohorts succeed in raising turnout to 55 percent in 2004 from a dismal 33 percent in 2000, but it's not difficult to find the cynicism that keeps many Native Americans from voting. One man explains that he will vote that day in the tribal election only, having been disillusioned by promises from politicians at the federal level over the years.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It looks like a nice film by what is written on this post,something different from the usual gun fights onto the reality of election, i think i will see it sometimes soon.
mark osborn
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