SF Docfest 2011 – The After Party (The Last Party 3) Review

Some films touch me on an emotional level as the story unravels, but what I love are the shivers that roll up and down my body for a brief moment as the film starts.  These are the movies I chase like a drug addict looking for a fix.  Within the first 5 minutes of The After Party, I was hooked.  It wasn’t just the goose bumps on my arms or the overall content matter that intrigued me, it was the cinematography that was captivating.  The use of color and texture on the screen excited me.  There was a concise thought that breathed life into this documentary and that, ladies and gentleman, is what film is all about.

Michael I. Schiller presents his story of falling upon a provocative civil rights lawsuit, an investigation into the dark world of government secrets and domestic surveillance in a creative and powerful way.  In times of war, it seems the government takes it upon themselves to add a substantial amount of extra attention to our lives, thus creating an open door into phones, computers, financial records, bills, debt, where you’re shopping, where you’re eating, your emails, and if you enjoy the lovely world of Facebook.  They know when you’re showering, what show you went to last night, and the fact that your new kitty’s name is Taz.  Schiller was arrested while documenting a controlled and peaceful protest.  He was treated as a threat to this country, stripped of rights and then released.  Having documented this mass arrest and the questionable way in which the police authority involved violated amendments, he was able to get over 200 people dropped of all charges.  A record high. Now he lives with proof that big brother is watching and a question of how far he will go.

This is the insanely scary world we are living in.  More likely than not, this is how it’s going to be from here on out.  Steps must be taken in order to preserve those little truths that we, for so many years, have placed our complete trust in.  We must demand that they hold fast because these are our rights and without them in this fast, open, scary world where people can disappear in the middle of the night, they are all we have.  If we demand that our voices are heard, they will be.  But if we sink into comfort and quite discontent our voices may be lost forever.

During this film an array of points were made touching on topics from 9/11 to the importance of voting.  Footage from the 2004 democratic convention during Barack Obama‘s speech arose an alarming comment from Andre 3000 of the group, Outkast, “If we’re ever going to have a black President, it’s gonna be that man right there,” referring to Obama on the television screen.  Andre 3000 acted as a spokesperson for the Vote or Die campaign.  As cameras followed his movements on the campaign trail, the overall message was clear.

The importance of these two stories – one of a journalist getting caught in a mass arrest, accidentally uncovering a police spying ring and another of a music artist entering into the world of voting for the first time in his 30’s, as well as leading an entire generation, creates a fusion of emotions that culminate in exceptional documentary making.

Showtimes for The After Party:

Saturday, October 15th, 2:45pm (Roxie Theater)

Monday, October 17th, 7:15pm (Shattuck – Berkeley)

Wednesday, October 19th, 7:15pm (Roxie Theater)

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