> Volume 6 > Number 31


Richard Ray Perez
Joan Sekler

Peter Coyote
Katherine Harris
Danny Glover

Release: TBA

Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election


We all remember it with a cringe, no matter what candidate we preferred. No one didn’t feel somewhat ashamed that our version of democracy -- so often used as an example to aspire to when we help new nations prepare their own governments -- had suddenly failed us: with the next four (possibly eight) years hinging on Florida’s electoral votes, we were glued to televisions watching election officials closely stare at ballots for hanging chads.

Al Gore and Joe Lieberman still reference it constantly, though there’s little acknowledgement now from victors in that recount as they hope to cull enough support this year to keep one state from holding the balance. Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election serves to remind us of what happened four years ago, and to make sure we don’t let it happen again (another upcoming documentary, Invisible Ballots, argues that we are destined to if election officials continue use of electronic machines without paper trails). It is a little muckraking -- no surprise considering that it’s from Robert Greenwald’s documentary collective behind Uncovered: The War on Iraq and Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism -- and the bias is palpable. But that doesn’t keep the film from completely rocking the boat Howard Dean-style: even when the film is pressing hard against the Republicans who tried to stop the recount, it shows disdain for the decision among DNC leaders to only have recounts in self-beneficial districts.

Unprecedented is certainly the best of these independent activist documentaries, its glide over the facts of the situation in November 2000 coming without the gaudiness of Outfoxed and the amateurish look of Uncovered. The film even gets to make some good points, resurrecting some outrageous occurrences that have been forgotten since then, like when a group of recount protesters were found to be imported staff members for Republican officials. With most of these films relying nearly completely on found footage, Unprecedented cashes in on these occasional nuggets of cringe-worthy nostalgia

©2004, David Perry,, 30 July 2004