BREAKING: A Student Documentary That Doesn’t Make Your Life Hurt

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.

25 Responses to “BREAKING: A Student Documentary That Doesn’t Make Your Life Hurt”

  1. brown '08 Says:

    pretty well done, but they still can’t make me care about UCS. But at least the rest of the world can see (and thus learn to avoid) Zac Townsend…

  2. brown '08 Says:

    pretty well done, but they still can’t make me care about UCS. But at least the rest of the world can see (and thus learn to avoid) Zac Townsend…

  3. brown 06 Says:

    This film reminded me exactly why i never voted in a UCS election any of my 4 years at brown. and by the way, the unicorn dance is amazing. the folk singer, dave binder, comes and plays every year on the last day of spring weekend (aka drunken stoned orgy weekend every april). it’s the most amazing way to nurse a hangover and close out the weekend.

  4. brown 06 Says:

    This film reminded me exactly why i never voted in a UCS election any of my 4 years at brown. and by the way, the unicorn dance is amazing. the folk singer, dave binder, comes and plays every year on the last day of spring weekend (aka drunken stoned orgy weekend every april). it’s the most amazing way to nurse a hangover and close out the weekend.

  5. p07 Says:

    The characters are like in the “Election” movie. John is the Chris Klein character. Zac is Tracy Flick/Reese Witherspoon, except Tracy Flick would’ve totally work that green t-shirt.

  6. p07 Says:

    The characters are like in the “Election” movie. John is the Chris Klein character. Zac is Tracy Flick/Reese Witherspoon, except Tracy Flick would’ve totally work that green t-shirt.

  7. tiot Says:

    that was the best thing i’ve ever seen

  8. tiot Says:

    that was the best thing i’ve ever seen

  9. lol Says:

    brown is an ivy?

  10. lol Says:

    brown is an ivy?

  11. Brown? Ivy? No. Says:

    Nope. Neither are Penn, Cornell, Dartmouth, or Columbia. The only real Ivies are Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. And frankly, Princeton and Yale are questionable.

  12. Brown? Ivy? No. Says:

    Nope. Neither are Penn, Cornell, Dartmouth, or Columbia. The only real Ivies are Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. And frankly, Princeton and Yale are questionable.

  13. haha Says:

    that lol probably came from some idiot at h,y,p,c,cu,or d. You guys don’t even deserve anything but the first letter.

    Anyways, it pains me to hear John Gillis speak.

  14. haha Says:

    that lol probably came from some idiot at h,y,p,c,cu,or d. You guys don’t even deserve anything but the first letter.

    Anyways, it pains me to hear John Gillis speak.

  15. Pton '09 Says:

    Eat your heart out, #2.

  16. Pton '09 Says:

    Eat your heart out, #2.

  17. funny Says:

    “we’re competent people cuz we’re going to Brown” hahahahahahaha

  18. funny Says:

    “we’re competent people cuz we’re going to Brown” hahahahahahaha

  19. Brownie Says:

    this is ridiculous– anyone think of that show at Brown that is about the exact same thing? ELECTED, //www.electedtv.com…pretty funny

  20. Brownie Says:

    this is ridiculous– anyone think of that show at Brown that is about the exact same thing? ELECTED, //www.electedtv.com…pretty funny

  21. Sara Says:

    oh my god like I wish like I went like…to like Brown like…in order to like become competent at like something.

  22. Sara Says:

    oh my god like I wish like I went like…to like Brown like…in order to like become competent at like something.

  23. Michael Morgenstern » A UCS Election Says:

    […] The intellectual, the jock, and the anarchist face off in a battle for the UCS presidency! Through this documentary about student governments at Brown University, we get a glimpse into the culture of Brown and the way student politicians operate. See the glowing review at ivygateblog! […]

  24. Castle on High Says:

    […] 46 Minutes Currently screening in Los Angeles – check with me for screenings near you! Positive review of rough draft on ivygateblog […]

  25. Castle on High Says:

    […] 46 Minutes Due to festival screening rules, the film can’t be made publicly available online. Ask me if you want to take a look! Currently screening in Los Angeles – check with me for screenings near you! Positive review of rough draft on ivygateblog […]

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