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Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed (2004)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 142 users   Metascore: 73/100
Reviews: 5 user | 9 critic | 7 from Metacritic.com

A documentary on Brooklyn-based Congresswoman Shirley's Chisholm's 1972 presidential bid.

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Title: Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed (2004)

Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed (2004) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Ralph Abernathy ...
Himself (archive footage)
Amiri Baraka ...
Himself
Susan Brownmiller ...
Herself
Octavia Butler ...
Herself
Shirley Chisholm ...
Herself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Ron Dellums ...
Himself
Walter Fauntroy ...
Himself
Betty Friedan ...
Herself (archive footage)
Paula Giddings ...
Herself
Robert Gottlieb ...
Himself
Hubert H. Humphrey ...
Himself (archive footage)
Barbara Lee ...
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...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself
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A documentary on Brooklyn-based Congresswoman Shirley's Chisholm's 1972 presidential bid.

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18 January 2004 (USA)  »

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Featured in The 20th IFP Independent Spirit Awards (2005) See more »

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Shola Lynch does a poor job.
15 February 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Shola Lynch is apparently so obsessed with the overarching message of a black woman running for the presidency in 1972 that she fails to see the need to present any real idea of what Shirley Chisholm stood for. We are more than 45 minutes into the film before the first film clip of Chisholm taking a stand on an issue is shown, opposing the Vietnam War.

The relevance of any candidate for the highest office in the land is their platform and positions. Late in the 1800s, Victoria Woodhull ran for the presidency largely on a platform of free love, and was largely ignored both at the time and by history. By securing over 150 delegates, Shirley Chisholm was clearly relevant and influential historically, but that message is lost in this film, which can never decide what it wants to be. Is the film a how-to on grassroots politics, a celebration of defiance and newfound power, or a record of the campaign? By not choosing a direction, the film flounders badly. You can sort of tell what it WANTS to be, but it never achieves it.

Perhaps I (a white male) am disappointing Shola Lynch by not caring in the slightest that a candidate is black or female, either in wanting Chisholm to succeed, or in wanting her to fail based solely on those two qualifications. As a hypothetical voter in 1972 (which is the proper assumed role of any viewer of the film), I am left with little or no idea what the key issues of the day were, or where Chisholm stood on them. Therefore, how am I to decide if I would back this candidate or even partially agree? If I agree with enough of a candidate's positions, I would back them even if they were a rainbow hued left-handed albino Martian.

Chisholm was a black female running for the Presidency in racially and politically charged times. Yippee-skip. By not clearly demonstrating what Chisholm stood for, and by presenting a muddled mishmash of themes, this film ultimately fails. If it is meant to be a tribute to an important and overlooked historical figure, it also fails. Not because of the relevance or irrelevance of Shirley Chisholm, but because this documentary fails to DOCUMENT. I can only hope that the biography channel will take in interest in Chisholm, so I can actually find out the critical information this film does not adequately present.


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