(Not Rated) Three and a half stars
At one point on election day in By the People, a winning documentary about the voting process, it is learned that some lady showed up at the polls only to be informed that she was listed as dead. Turns out that a number of people were inadvertently included on a purge list of deceased voters compiled by the government. Later, during a staff huddle, some papers are reviewed. “This is a list that is sent by the state,” says a blond woman, “Right here there’s a confidence factor, and apparently that is the confidence factor of … how confident they are that the person is really dead.” Upon closer examination, it turns out that she is holding page 227 out of 584
Welcome to the Presidential election of 2004 in Indianapolis, as filmed by North Central grad Malindi Fickle. The documentary, which received positive reviews from the New York press prior to its run there, plays at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Thursday only at Landmark’s Keystone Art Cinema.
You really should attend. The film showcases the efforts of an army of volunteers who deal with whatever comes between you and the voting machine. It highlights the need for new volunteers — many of the devoted workers are elderly and as they join the deceased list, not enough new people are stepping in to replace them.
Beyond that, the movie is quite entertaining. The cameras follow Marion County Clerk Doris Anne Sadler as she moves among the mostly-unpaid workers through the absentee voting, the election prep and finally, Election Day. The process is fascinating and the indefatigable nature of Sadler and her many colleagues is amazing.
Malindi Fickle and her fellow filmmakers have crafted a well-shot, crispy edited feature that takes a subject that sounds dull and shows that it isn’t. And hey, nice song choices for the opening and closing credits –”Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” by They Might Be Giants, Ok Go’s dandy cover of “This Will Be Our Year” by The Zombies and “Jerry Falwell Destroyed the Earth” by Ben Kweller. Pretty hip.
By the People is informative, inspiring, sometimes funny and occasionally even surreal, plus the songs are cool. See it now, while the confidence factor by your name on the deceased list is still low.