I saw Conventioneers at the Tribeca Film Festival yesterday. Set during the Republican Convention in 2004, Conventioneers is the story of an affair between a delegate and a protester. The filmmakers threw their actors into the real events happening during that period, and shot their scenes being jostled by the protesters and delegates. They even managed to get arrested while shooting a scene. It gives the film a very special energy which is quite different from the thousands of extras type choreography of a Gandhi or Lawrence of Arabia.
One of the interesting aspects of the process of making the film was that the filmmakers and actors got involved with working on the protests as part of their work on their roles. One of the actors who is supposed to be a member of One Thousand Coffins, has actually ended up becoming an active member of that group. This blurring of preparation and real life involvement really worked for this film, for one thing, the performances were very good, and it saved the film from becoming a soap box or one of those “backdrop” films like The Year of Living Dangerously where the characters are trying to “find” themselves, against some cataclysmic political event they don’t quite understand, usually in the Third World, after all who can understand anything “about those people.”
The film has a few independent film rough spots, but well worth watching. It will be screened a few more times the rest of this week, so if you show up early you can still get tickets.