Conventioneers (review)

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Here’s a new kind of movie for the era of cheap, easy, guerilla-style filmmaking with DV cameras. A combination of documentary and narrative, this is a star-crossed romance set at the actual 2004 Republican national convention in New York City, shot among the many real protests and other political street theater that spontaneously sprang up on those sweltering and contentious summer days. (Writer-director Mora Stephens, along with several of her producers and camera operators, were all arrested merely for videotaping protestors around New York City; after being detained for long hours, all were released without charges.) Texan delegate David (Matthew Mabe) arrives in Manhattan raring for some hot convention action and instead finds himself unexpectedly embroiled in an affair with a former college friend, Lea (Woodwyn Koons), who just happens to be an angry anti-Bush liberal neck-deep in organizing protests. Meanwhile, Lea’s friend Dylan (Alek Friedman), who dropped out of the activist lifestyle after he and his wife had a baby, is suddenly tossed a delicious opportunity for dissent when he is offered work as a podium-side sign-language interpreter for none other than George W. Bush himself. A smart, savvy film about the choices and compromises we make in our quests for fulfillment — and in our angry fugue states — this provocative work won the John Cassavetes Award at the 2006 Independent Spirit Award and the grand jury prize for best narrative feature at the 2006 Florida Film Festival. Extras include a making-of featurette, commentaries, alternate takes and endings, and “arrest shorts.” [buy at Amazon]

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