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DID YOU READ

Reliving the Obama drama of “11/4/08.”

Reliving the Obama drama of “11/4/08.” (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival.

The loud yellow letters that open Jeff Deutchman’s “11/4/08” announce that “You are watching a consensual piece of cinema,” which carefully sidesteps the fact that it is not a film in any traditional sense of the word. Shot on dozens of digital cameras, it could also be described as a work in progress, compiled by moviemakers across the country and around the world on the night Barack Obama was elected president. It deals in emotions as opposed to narrative, and in the idea that moviemaking can be a social collective rather than an exercise in the auteur theory.

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be mentioned here that Deutchman is also an acquisitions exec for our sister company IFC Films, though the companies are separate and I’ve never met him personally. As it turns out, neither have some of the people who helped make “11/4/08” — he made a point of shaking hands with Austin filmmaker Thomas Humphries after the film’s premiere since the two had never been in the same room together. Rather than crediting himself as a director on the project, he takes the less proprietary “curated and edited by” tag, culling together 70 minutes of material from 7 a.m. eastern time to 4 a.m. the following morning of the historic election day.

Within a matter of seconds, you’re being swept into the home of a family awaiting voter tallies in Homer, AK before following Joe and Kris Swanberg as they hang Obama leaflets on doors in Portage, IN and then away it is to Manhattan where some twentysomethings have discovered that their “I voted” sticker could be used to get all the free Starbucks coffee they want. Some of the people behind the cameras are relatively well-known like the Swanbergs, “The Order of Myths” director Margaret Brown and “Catfish” co-director Henry Joost, but according to the press notes, there were nearly as many amateurs contributing footage of varying levels of video quality that Deutchman weaves together into a document that reveals the parallel experiences of that day in something approximating real time. While a political scientist is waiting outside of Obama’s district polling place to catch a glimpse of the soon-to-be president-elect in Chicago, Obama volunteers in St. Louis are revving up for their final get out the vote push, and as the day wears on, so do the locations as we’re treated to glimpses of Dubai, New Delhi and Berlin.

According to the press notes, Deutchman hatched the plan for this via a mass e-mail only two weeks before the election and while the fact that there was something completed for SXSW is remarkable, it is also, for better or worse, a “take what you can get” situation. Although Robert Drew would be proud of the direct cinema distillation of pure human experience on display, there’s also no natural story arc on which “11/4/08” can hang its hat — the closest it comes is showing the red, white and blue balloons that a man is carrying in downtown Manhattan being used for a post-election party at a New York club near the end of the film.

There are many man-on-the-street interviews on subways and streets, and at viewing parties and campaign headquarters, but while there is some diversity among those being interviewed, at least racially, there isn’t nearly enough generationally or politically to generate much tension. (It doesn’t help matters that the lone two Americans who say they won’t support Obama don’t present well — one is dressed shabbily and comes across as a closet racist, the other looks like he just got done short-trading your future; an interview with a woman in Dubai who resignedly says it won’t matter who is elected is a more poignant voice of dissent, but although one can’t fault the moviemakers for not being able to predict the future, the person posing the question makes the folly of insisting that Obama would withdraw troops from Afghanistan while rival John McCain would not.)

Still, there are moments where “11/4/08” shines. In St. Louis, the back-to-back testimonials of two Obama volunteers — a 21-year-old woman whose father was fired when he refused to sell subprime mortgages to support her college education and a middle-aged African-American who reminisces about Emmett Till — has the power of a double-barreled shotgun blast. Similarly affecting is an ex-con sitting on the bleachers in Brooklyn who is distrustful of all the reports that the momentum is building towards the election of the first African-American president, yet sits stoically with his eyes fixed on the big screen in a public park. Knowing that there are many other moments like this out there, Deutchman ends “11/4/08” by asking for more footage at the web site, 11-4-08.com, where what was presented at SXSW will become in his words, “a living document.” It should be worth it to stay tuned.

“11/4/08” currently has no U.S. distribution.

[Photos: “11/4/08,” Consensual Cinema, 2010; Deutchman, holding mic, and many of the other filmmakers onhand for the SXSW Q & A, photo by Stephen Saito]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…