Battle in Seattle
dir. Stuart Townsend
98 minutes
2008

A part of me secretly was hoping the opening music was gonna be “50k Deep” by the Blue Scholars.  But the real opening was pretty good too and did a good job of framing the movie.  Putting the movie into context of 50 years of “free trade” agreements and un-elected global institutions (would it be better if they were elected?) sets up the economic argument behind the battle about to unfold.

The movie, a docudrama, does a decent job of showing the evolution of the events of November 30, 1999.  Although there is an over-emphasis on the main character’s personal backstory, the film did a good job of representing the issues that concerned the protestors as well as the bewildered Seattle response to the growing uprising.  It’s not believable that Andre 3000 would dress as a turtle, but the concerns of the people were legitimate and compelling.  The tactics were inspiring.  Framing the difference between anarchist violence and parliament of the streets was done well.

For the most part, the film can serve as a useful introduction into imperialist globalization, and the reactionary response by the state.  There were a few gaffes, such as the 1st generation portrayal of Gary Locke with a Chinese accent, and the ommission of large numbers of people of color as part of the protest (it’d have been nice to see the Filipino-led International People’s Assembly represented somehow).

The end of the film was nice, that it highlighted the continuing global struggle against imperialism.  When they got to the “Philippines,” the BAYAN-Seattle forces at the Neptune theater made the most noise, probably the only time BAYAN-led rallies would be shown on the big screen in the United States.  I can only imagine the same thing happening collectively in SF, NY and LA.

Although most of us were not there at the Battle of Seattle, the fruits of that people’s uprising was visible and concrete, surrounded by a new generation of “mga aktibista,” in the very city that sparked a heightened level of consciousness and resistance.

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