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11/4/08 (2010)

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Weaving together footage recorded throughout the world on the day Obama was elected President, this verite documentary explores how people choose to live through 'history.'

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Weaving together footage recorded throughout the world on the day Obama was elected President, this verite documentary explores how people choose to live through 'history.'

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20 October 2010 (USA)  »

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A Creative, but Failed, Attempt to Document an Important Historical Moment
20 March 2010 | by (Austin, TX, United States) – See all my reviews

Jeff Deutchman has tried to give us a day in the life of America and the World picture of the historic day in which Barack Obama was elected President and in many ways redefined American as a 21st century multi-cultural nation. It is a powerful moment, but the picture which is defined by its rigid methodology doesn't really live up to the moment. Deutchman – in what he describes as an act of consensual film-making - asked his friends around the world to film the events of the day which resulted in an echo chamber of mostly Obama supporters spouting simplistic thoughts on the historic significance of the day. The early parts before the election reflect the nervousness of Election Day and the later sections the often drunken celebration of the day, but the film fails to provide a real understanding of the titanic events. Many of the clips are better suited to YouTube. The people are mostly young, liberal and banal. They speak in sound bites about hope and change and rarely go below the surface to attempt to wrestle with the political significance or the momentous issues of the election. There is almost nothing on important issues such as Iraq, the sinking economy or the campaign's signature debate on Health Care.

There are a few wonderful clips like that of an elderly black campaign worker reflecting on her memories of the death of Emmet Till in 1955 and why this means so much to her. The use of a few international clips brings home that an American election has world historical significance and international consequences. But most of the picture is incomplete and totally lacking in historical and political context. This is where the random verite style fails and where incorporating some expert analysis of the events could greatly strengthen the presentation of one of the most important events of our times. The film reflects an innovative experiment, but unfortunately not a very successful one.


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