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BREAKING: A Student Documentary That Doesn’t Make Your Life Hurt
Posted By Chris Beam On March 29, 2007 @ 10:11 am In Uncategorized | 25 Comments
The thing about student council elections is– Wait! Don’t stop reading!
Sorry, we should never start an item with “student council elections.” It’s one of those phrases that, like “tax reform” and “In 1647…”, induces instant brain shutdown. Which is why Michael Morgenstern’s 50-minute documentary on Brown’s 2006 student council race is nothing short of a miracle.
To answer your first question: Yes, we watched the whole thing. To answer your second: Yes, you should, too.
The movie follows the three candidates for UCS president. Along the way, you see all the hallmarks of back-stabby political drama: students talking shit about other students … Well, that’s actually it, but it’s pretty fun to watch. Perhaps it could have used a major campaign sabotage, or a sex scandal, or an assassination. But given the subject matter, the movie does an incredible job of making you care about a race that most Brown kids were probably too busy watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force to even follow.
The characters make it work. There’s “dumb” “jock” John (scare quotes because you have to keep in mind, it’s Brown), the lacrosse-playing superhottie who means well, but looks about as adept on the debate floor as Stephen Hawking on a basketball court. Then there’s Zac, the silver-tongued Karl Rove lookalike who, in his first interview, remarks ever so subtly that he got into Harvard. Zac knows everyone and everyone knows him — as an asshole. (He freely admits this in the film.) Lastly, there’s Arthur: idealistic, outgoing, doomed. The filmmaker, himself a Brown junior, manages to weave a cohesive narrative around these three players, tracking them to meetings, interviewing them behind the scenes, and milking other students for quotes so gem-like they sparkle.
It’s not like this film is going to solve the problem of student apathy — which, come to think of it, never seems like much of a problem when the issues at hand are greater than swipe access and dining hall hours. But it definitely helps de-douchify the sort of people who four years of college teaches you to despise. We don’t find ourselves saying this much, but big ups to everyone involved in this project. (For a more cinematic experience, you can see the hi-res version here.)
P.S. — What’s with that unicorn dance? Probably just what happens when you let students design their own curriculum.
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