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PubliCola Goes to the Movies

We're hosting a political film series at the Northwest Film Forum starring the mayoral candidates.

By Josh Feit June 6, 2013

We're excited to announce that PubliCola is programming a political film series at the nerdy local independent cinema mecca, the Northwest Film Forum. (Longtime readers know that we're film enthusiasts here at PubliCola and used to run weekly movie reviews by our FilmNerd columnist.)

We asked this year's mayoral candidates to pick their favorite political movies of all time, gave the list to NWFF's program director Adam Sekuler (every candidate submittted two choices to give the Film Forum more options to book the series), and Sekuler booked a week of screenings in early July where each candidate will introduce their movie and explain its political significance.

The series runs July 5-8. We'll post more details in the runup to the shows.

Originally, Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess was slated to introduce a flick. (He dropped out of the race in mid-May, though, so we dropped him from the program.) Burgess chose Milk and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Milk is Gus Van Sant's 2008 biopic about the 1970s gay rights icon Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected politician in San Francisco who was murdered by a deranged colleague in 1978. The movie stars Sean Penn as Milk (I actually like the 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, better, but Van Sant's movie is dynamite.)

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is Frank Capra's 1939 classic about a gee-whiz idealist, Jimmy Stewart, who confronts corruption in D.C.

Burgess' divergent choices—a gritty film about gay politics in 1970s San Francisco or a safe slice of white bread starring Stewart's Boy Scout leader turned U.S. Sen. Jefferson Smith?—offer a big clue about why his campaign flopped. 

Burgess had trouble with framing. The equivocal Burgess ultimately couldn't decide how to define himself and ended up as the born-again progressive who got cold feet when the business establishment wasn't backing him. The only unequivocal decison he made during his ill-fated run was to quit, which he only did a few hours before the filing deadline.

(By the way, one of the other candidates' runner-up picks was Milk—and it wasn't gay state Sen. Ed Murray.)

More details to come. But for what it's worth: My favorite political movie is Night of the Living Dead (1968) ... zombies are a rich metaphor; Erica's is Shattered Glass (2003); and film connoisseur Sekuler's is a Hungarian film called Satantango (1994).


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