by Tom Warner, Best & Next Department
With less than 100 days until the 2020 presidential election, Kanopy – the free video streaming resource you can access using your Pratt library card – has curated a collection of films that focuses on history and disenfranchisement as it relates to voting in the United States. Hopefully, watching films like Dark Money, Answering the Call, Beyond Elections, and others from Kanopy will inspire us all to vote and make our voices heard this November! For more information on voting in Maryland, please visit The State Board of Elections website here.
BEYOND ELECTIONS (2008, Credit-free) In 1989, the Brazilian Worker’s Party altered the concept of local government when they installed participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, allowing residents to participate directly in the allocation of city funds. Ten years later, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was swept into power with the promise of granting direct participation to the Venezuelan people; who have now formed tens of thousands of self-organized communal councils. In the Southern Cone, cooperative and recuperated factory numbers have grown, and across the Americas social movements and constitutional assemblies are taking authority away from the ruling elites and putting power into the hands of their members and citizens.
THE CANDIDATES (2018) Since 1996, the student body of Townsend Harris High School has been staging the longest running civics experiment in the form of simulating the American electoral process against the backdrop of the real one. In these elaborate mock elections that span an entire semester, candidates must run the whole gamut of an election Grand simulation replete with fake money, media pundits, campaign ads, debates, electioneering, super PACs, and candidates’ spouses. The Candidates dives into the halls of Townsend Harris High School during the months leading up to the 2016 election.
DARK MONEY (2018) This acclaimed documentary (nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2019 Academy Awards for the Grand Jury Prize in Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival) examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. The film takes viewers to Montana – a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide – to follow a local journalist working to expose the real-life impacts of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
ANSWERING THE CALL (2016) The bloody attacks of protestors in Selma on “Bloody Sunday” in 1965 led to the historic protection of all Americans’ right to vote. This film explores a cherished family story of Selma and the current state of voter suppression in America.
VOTING MATTERS (2018) When a key section of the Voting Rights Act was struck down in 2013, several states with a history of racial discrimination immediately attempted to pass laws that further restricted voter rights. This film follows civil rights attorney Donita Judge as she helps several voters in Ohio cast ballots even though they initially were turned away.
And don’t forget that 2020 is the Women’s Suffrage Centennial year. Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment that granted women the right to vote by watching these free Kanopy suffrage documentaries.
Pioneering Political Women
Long before Kamala Harris became the first Black (and first South Asian) Vice-Presidential candidate, there were other political pioneers of Women’s Rights, such as Shirley Chisolm (the first Black Congresswoman and the first Black woman to run for President) and Elaine Ferraro (the first female Vice-Presidential running mate). Kanopy chronicles their stories in the documentaries below:
Discuss films with Tom and Humanities Librarian Gillian, every other Friday at 12pm during Film Fridays.