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Unprecedented - 2000 Presidential Election
By now you probably feel that you have heard all you wanted to about the 2000 Presidential election. You are either in the Bush camp and tired of hearing accusations or you are in the Gore camp and feel it is too painful to revisit. In both cases Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election won't change your mind. However, if you lean left of center and are opposed to Bush (or to Republicans in general) then this documentary works hard to confirm the beliefs that the election in Florida was so scandalous that democracy took a back seat to political machinations.
Directed and compiled by Richard Ray Pérez and Joan Sekler the documentary is only 45 minutes long but packs in a lot of vital information. By juxtaposing news footage and interviews with investigative journalists such as Greg Palast ('The Best Democracy Money Can Buy'), John Latigua, John Nichols ('Jews for Buchanan') and Jake Taper ('Down and Dirty') the filmmakers present a good case that the election was not only as crooked as many Democrats suspected but possibly criminal.
The main contention that comes forth is centered around all of the voters who were incorrectly (and/or illegally) purged because they were on what was called the 'Felon Purge List'. It turns out that this list was put together in a shoddy manner by a company named Database Technologies (now called Choice Point) – who were hired by Republican operatives in Florida for $4 million.
The charges are many but the most salient one is that 15% of the 94,000 people on the list were incorrectly listed there. Over half of them were black: And in the 2000 election in Florida 90% of black voters voted Democrat. Do the math and you see that Gore – who lost by a mere 629 votes – would have won Florida.
The documentary then charts the recounts (pun intended) all the faces and names (like Kathryn Harris and Jeb Bush) and the clashes we remember between Republicans and Democrats as they went through the courts trying to figure out what was the proper way to count votes – if at all.
The film moves along quickly and even though is rehashes what we remembered about that election it does provide some new insights. But while it offers a pile of information it doesn't attempt to be balanced in any way, which means this documentary ultimately preaches to the converted.
The entire documentary is shot in video and many sections use news footage. Artifact and shimmering images are noticeable throughout but the information the film provides draws the viewer in enough that these defects are quite minor.
There are lots of talking heads and it all sounds just fine. It seems to be presented in stereo.
There are five extras all of which are interviews that were not included in the documentary. The best is Voter Purge (15 minutes), which presents the viewer with more info that Greg Palast gathered about the actions of the Florida Republicans with regards to the purge list. After that the extras become a little more Leftist and a lot more conspiratorial. They include Media Malfeance (12 minutes), Critical Perspectives (4 minutes), which includes snippets from Noam Chomsky and Michael Parenti and Rise of Corporate Dominance (3 minutes) which only tangentially has anything to do with the documentary.
Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election is an effective documentary that presents a lot of alarming information about the 2000 election. It is the kind of agitprop that can turn heads and make people more aware of what's going on. If anything the documentary can be used as a tool to organize the Left. If you are on the Right the documentary won't do much to convince you since it features no one on the Right countering the accusations. However, I cannot imagine a Republican watching this documentary and not considering some of what is presented as very disturbing.