Monday, September 27, 2004
Partisan Politics paid for with your money.
When student Democrats at Mary Baldwin College were thinking of ways to get out the vote, they decided the controversial documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" could best light a fire under potential voters.
The film will be shown on campus tonight and every night through Oct. 3 as part of a week of free films, moderated discussions and voter registration, dubbed "An Alternative Viewpoint," organized by students, faculty and alumnae.
"It's not designed as entertainment or for fun," said Danica Jamison, a Mary Baldwin alumna who helped pay for the film. "It's to engage people politically and getting them to look at alternative media sources."
Organizers chose "Fahrenheit 9/11" because its creator, Michael Moore, tries to convince people that the Bush Administration used the 2001 terrorist attacks to push forward its own agenda.
Organizers realize they probably won't sway any stalwart Bush supporters, but they hope to get people, particularly young people, talking about and voting in the presidential election.
"It's been talked about so much and received international attention," Jamison said. "It's a fascinating film to see and talk about."
Organizers said they welcome all viewpoints. Moderators will guide discussions but not participate in the debates.
Just as conservatives have dominated talk radio, liberals have discovered a new outlet for their viewpoints through documentary filmmaking. Three other documentaries are scheduled to be shown at the film festival:"Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War," "Outfoxed" and "Unconstitutional." Organizers will also show the first presidential debate Sept. 30.
Although she believes the film is factual, Carrie Douglass, a Mary Baldwin anthropology professor who will moderate one of the post-film discussions, said Moore's presentation of those facts begs discussion.
"They are facts but they are interpreted facts. I think it's important to criticize that," said Douglass, who plans to cast her vote for presidential candidate John Kerry on Nov. 2.
The film's biggest asset is its ability to spark debate. "It is a catalyst for asking questions, especially with younger audiences."
Douglass's own college-aged son was previously uninterested in politics until he saw "Fahrenheit." She hopes it will have the same effect on other young would-be voters.
"It was the first time I had seen him so engaged," she said.