A PARTICIPATORY DOCUMENTARY

Cheering in Grant Park. Photo by Alex Sherman

Before I went to see 11/4/08 I had mixed expectations; I anticipated a highly political movie that perhaps sought to praise democratic values as well as the election of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. From my perspective most political documentaries clearly follow a scheme (whether they do it on purpose or not is beyond me) – (1) it opens with footage illustrating the central theme of the movie (2) a session of deep interviews begins (always with experts; “the experts say that…”) and (3) a conclusion. Obviously, this was what I expected to see this morning too, and I was not sure if I was ready for such a movie at 11 a.m. on a Saturday.

And that is why I was literally stunned – perhaps completely mesmerized – by how different 11/4/08 was compared to other political pictures. I was merely a neutral movie describing a special event, and not as political as I had expected. The movie started of abruptly and almost stumbled into a masterly directed sequence of footage from different locations in the USA on the Election Day (November 4th, 2008). It featured little dialogue, but instead amateur footage taken from numerous volunteers nationwide (and later, worldwide), ultimately crating unique impressions. Cinematographically the movie seemed so simple that it almost went on to be bizarre, but nevertheless did it portray the historical day that is 11-04-08 in a brand new and illuminating light. Through a skillfully edited compilation of footage from all over the world, we visited everything from a Missisippi election night party to a political rally in New Delhi (!). Even though background noise and poor video quality was a substantial part of this film, the effects that these factors created were unique and very fascinating as it made me feel extremely close to what was happening.

In contrast to other political movies, 11/4/08 describes the worldwide ‘mood’ during an extraordinary event of politics – and not the politics itself. The most impressive aspect of the movie is how it is an entirely different concept than what we are used to – the core of the movie is participation and engagement from volunteers arond the world. All in all a great capture of what history’ looks like’ and an exciting ‘must-see’ for all that pay interest to this historical day.

… and may I just say that it is incredible how before/after views on a movie change after you’ve seen it!

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One Reply to “A PARTICIPATORY DOCUMENTARY”

  1. Did you feel that this movie influenced your political interests in any way? I think this seems like a very interesting movie and I am pretty sure you like that it contained interviews with certain people. I was wondering if they had a question and answer session after the film and if so were you able to contribute to it? I hope you enjoyed the movie.

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