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Chicago 10 - Preview

Chicago 10, documentary

Preview by Jack Foley

A DOCUMENTARY chronicling the violent protests against the Vietnam war in Chicago in 1968 is to open the 2007 Sundance film festival in Utah, it has been announced.

Chicago 10 examines the demonstrations surrounding 1968’s Democratic National Convention, which saw protestors clash violently with the National Guard. It is directed by Brett Morgen, whose boxing documentary, On The Ropes, received an Oscar nomination in 2000. It is also the follow-up to the director’s critically acclaimed The Kid Stays In The Picture, about legendary film producer Robert Evans.

Chicago 10 incorporates archive footage, animation and music to tell the story of the 1968 protests, as well as the subsequent trial of eight activists. The animated sequences feature the voices of actors such as Nick Nolte and Hank Azaria.

In announcing the opening film, Sundance festival director Geoff Gilmore said: “We are pleased to open the 2007 Sundance Film Festival with Brett Morgen’s Chicago 10. We are particularly excited to be able to present a film that pushes the boundaries of many of the traditional aspects of documentary filmmaking, that speaks to audiences beyond what one might expect and that exemplifies the range of creativity and diversity that we support at the festival.”

The festival organiers go on to declare that the film presents contemporary history through a mix of bold and original animation with extraordinary archival footage that allows the film to move back and forth between the protests on the streets of Chicago and the resulting courtroom chaos.

“Set to the music of revolution, then and now, Chicago 10 is a story of young Americans speaking out and taking a stand in the face of an oppressive and armed government,” a statement adds.

Morgen, himself, commented: “It seems fitting to me that a film about the importance of taking a stand should launch the festival. For five years, I have laboured to bring this story into focus and with each passing day, the film becomes increasingly relevant. I can’t think of a more appropriate time and place to unleash this beast.”

The Sundance festival was founded by Robert Redford in 1981 and boasts a world-renowned reputation for helping smaller, independent films break into the mainstream. Past hits have included Maria Full of Grace, Napoleon Dynamite and Super Size Me.

It is the year’s first major film festival and often cited as one of the most important on the cinema circuit. Some of the year’s biggest independent films regularly receive debuts there. Indeed, since 1981 the Utah venue has attracted some of the biggest names in Hollywood and sparked some of the most intense studio bidding wars during its two week running time.

The 2007 Sundance Festival opens on January 18.