2008-03-07 / Columnists

On The Beach

'Chicago 10' - A Must-See Movie
Commentary By Beverly Baxter

BEVERLY BAXTER BEVERLY BAXTER Did you know that we have an Academy Award nominated filmmaker among us?

Brett Morgen's film credits include "On The Ropes," for which he received the nomination, and the well-received "The Kid Stays In The Picture," as well as the recent television series "Nimrod Nation," for the Sundance Channel. He opened his latest film, "Chicago 10," to nationwide audiences on February 29.

According to the press card, "Chicago 10" tells the story of the buildup and unraveling of the 1969 Chicago Conspiracy trial. It is a stirring account of young Americans taking a stand in the face of an oppressive government- a story that has become emblematic of sixties activism and has deep resonance to the world today. While only eight men were put on trial, they represented thousands of people who were willing to be jailed, beaten and tear gassed just to be heard by those running for office. That activism shattered complacency and became the rallying cry for why a citizenry should never take their liberties for granted." The film challenges the viewer to ask how far they would go and to what extent they would endure consequences in order to be heard.

Morgen's compelling style has revolutionized the Documentary genre of filmmaking. He takes conservative documentary drama and adds compelling high production value to heighten storytelling. With his use unconventional production techniques, such as 3-D animation to illustrate the courtroom drama of the trial; restored archival footage that depicts, in a fresh

way, the protest confrontation; and his use of sound, which is a "main character" in the film, the audience is both riveted and entertained. Morgen's revolutionary use of these post-production devices heightens the impact of the film. With his brilliant use of these new techniques set against the conservative Documentary genre, his film shows the collision of old set against a new style of storytelling. It is also metaphoric for an old establishment colliding with a new generation that simply insists on being heard by its representatives.

What I found most compelling in the film is Brett's use of sound. When you hear the sound of the marching police or the unnerving crack of the batons on protestors' bodies, you feel the full impact of the violence of the time. The use of music was also atypical of what you'd expect to hear in a film that depicts Sixties activism. Instead of Grace Slick, Brett gives you the Beastie Boyz, Hip Hop and Rap, another unconventional use of a conventional genre.

I enjoyed the film very much and I am so proud that we have amongst us, here in Rockaway, a filmmaker of this calibre! Brett Morgen is married to Debra Eisenstadt. The couple will be presenting some of their films at our second annual Rockaway Literary Arts and Film Festival this June 6, 7 and 8. This year's festival will memorialize the beauty and creative force of Barbara Eisenstadt, who envisioned, and co-chaired, this extraordinary event.

I recommend that you see Chicago 10 at the Sunshine Cinemas, and mark your calendars and plan to attend this year's Literary Arts and Film Festival. ***See you...On the Beach!

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