IMPACT Arts + Film Fund hosts pre-screening of documentary GERRYMANDERING at Landmark E Street Cinema.
By Madeleine Frank
At the entrance to the E Street Landmark Cinema, two men argued with a woman holding a list of names. “We changed our plans to be here,” one of the men exclaimed as the woman explained that she could not let them in. Meanwhile, a slightly more fortunate group of moviegoers filed into the theatre, buzzing excitedly.
It was a prescreening of the documentary “GERRYMANDERING,” an event that boasted political power players like California Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger in attendance, that caused all this commotion. Gerrymandering is the redrawing of district lines to favor a certain politician, and it can be done to favor an incumbent, a certain party, or even to diminish the influence of minority groups. While most of the audience knew what Gerrymandering was prior to the screening, the film succeeded in bringing up interesting new issues. Most people had never realized that prisoners count in the census but can’t vote, sometimes creating an unfair distribution of districts, or that all other democratic countries that had redistricting systems similar to ours changed them years ago. While the film undeniably had a message (Gerrymandering is bad! Stand up to your representatives!), it still did a good job of conveying information. The film followed the story of Proposition 11 in California, a plot in which Schwarzenneger was a key player, and mixed in other pieces of information throughout. The film managed to be not only informative for people with a great knowledge of politics, but also accessible for those unfamiliar with the concepts it covered.
The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart moderated a post-screening question and answer session with Governor Schwarzenneger, former Congressman Martin Frost, Congressman John Tanner and Jeff Reichert, the filmmaker.
The screening was followed by a reception at Coco Sala, where savory bites were passed around while many guests eyed the rows of chocolate encased in glass.
The film opens in theatres in Fall 2010.
Madeleine Frank is a rising sophomore at Harvard University. She plans to study English and pursue a career in magazine journalism.