Monday, January 19, 2009

Chicago 10: Speak Your Peace

(PHESP Review) I was lucky enough to stumble across this little beauty late one night watching the SBS channel (Australia) at home (who said SBS was shit?) and followed it up later to find there was more to this partly-animated film then I thought.

Chicago 10: Speak Your Peace is an awesome film written and directed by Brett Morgen (part one in trilogy) which follows the story of the famous Chicago Seven, remembered for rallying against the US government at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

The Original Chicago Seven (aka The Chicago Conspiracy) included:

Abbie Hoffman - American social and political activist and cofounder of the Youth International Party aka "Yippies" (November 30, 1936 – April 12, 1989)

Jerry Rubin - Left-wing American social activist (July 14, 1938 – November 28, 1994)

David Dellinger - One of the most influential American radicals of the 20th century, was a pacifist and activist for nonviolent social change (August 22, 1915 – May 25, 2004)

Thomas Hayden - American social and political activist and politician, famous for his involvement in the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s (born December 11, 1939)

Rennie Davis - A prominent American anti-Vietnam War protest leader of the 1960s (born 1941)

John Froines - Anti-war and social activist

Lee Weiner – Anti-war and social activist

For those who are new to the Chicago Seven…… America in 1968, was remembered by many as being at the height of social unrest caused mostly by the Vietnam War, racial inequality and what many Americans felt was a discrimination of basic rights by the government. Activist groups such as the Black Panthers, Yippies and Women’s Liberation, together with student groups from across the country, were protesting daily against the American Government which, saw many violent clashes with police at demonstrations, often escalating into riots.

Anti-war and freedom of speech activist Abbie Hoffman and his newly formed crew of Yippies (the Youth International Party) planned to rally a huge demonstration/festival illegally at the 1968 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Lincoln Park, Chicago. The Yippies, along side many other activist groups, believed that an in justice and abuse of power had occurred by American government and the group was opposed to the Vietnam war which was at its peak. They believed that demonstrating at the DNC would bring change, promote freedom of speech and encourage others to stand against the government. After extensive media coverage on the Yippies and their festive plans before hand, thousands of demonstrators, students and protesters turned up to what authorities were calling a large-scale illegal gathering.

The Yippies were unable to secure the rights to legally hold a festival in Lincoln Park, although they tried by submitting numerous requests for permits, etc., after being denied by the city council they decided to go ahead with the festival illegally.

Over the next two days clashes between the demonstrators and police escalated as police attempted to eject the protesters from the park, particularly at night due to the park closing at 11pm. The protesters refused to budge and this resulted in many violent scenes of which some were caught on camera. The festival, which had included music, dancing, speeches, protests and poetry, etc., eventually came to an end, although many demonstrators continued to rally on the streets.

Later the Chicago Seven were arrested and charged with conspiracy and inciting a riot, amongst other chargers.

The Chicago 10 trilogy…

Speak Your Peace (2007), part one in the trilogy, features the voices of Hank Azaria, Dylan Baker, Nick Nolte, Mark Ruffalo, Roy Scheider, Live Schreiber and Jeffrey Wright in an animated reenactment of the trial of the Chicago Seven. It contains real footage of actual events and transcripts and recordings of the Seven, in cluding the protest and clashes with police.

The title Chicago 10 is drawn from a quote from one of the original Seven, Jerry Rubin, when he said “Anyone who calls us the Chicago Seven is a racist because you’re discrediting Bobby Seale. You can call us the Chicago Eight, but really we’re the Chicago Ten, because our two lawyers went down with us”.

Jeff Skoll and Hank Azaria have been said to want to make two more movies, making a trilogy. The second one, expected for a 2009 release, will be called Chicago 10: Days to Go, and the third film, expected for a 2010 release, will be called Chicago 10: Mean Green.

Chicago Seven protest - taking the hill

Chicago 10: Speak Your Peace official trailer