On November 9, 2016, the majority of people living in this country woke up to the spine-chilling realization that somehow the most absurd of scenarios had become a reality. El Trump, the United States’ very own Lord Voldemort, had managed to rally enough disenfranchised racists and, allegedly, also some foreign friends to win the election thus giving birth to one of the most horrendous periods in recent American history.
The nightmare we still find ourselves in started nearly a year ago on a Tuesday night that was supposed to be an easy victory for sanity, but which turned into a dystopian tale of horror. That fateful election day is the subject of 11/8/16, an anthology documentary comprised of multiple perspectives. 16 filmmakers were asked to follow an array of people from all walks of life and from across the political spectrum, the end product is an ambitious portrayal of a divided nation
In an effort to offer a measured and impartial look at this historic date – as much as it can be when dealing with the nonsensical reality of a country that elected a sexist, racist, incompetent reality star to run what’s supposed to be the most powerful country in the world – some of the stories focus on the other side and attempt to help us understand the logic used by specific pockets of the population to justify voting for Trump.
The trailer provides a kaleidoscopic glance that ranges from: people who were certain that common sense would win and were left in pure disbelief, a black man who hadn’t voted in 30 years, coal miners wondering what the future holds if their candidate were to lose, a homeless man who thinks his vote won’t make a difference, and even a brawny Trump voter claiming to feel threatened by a crowd of Hillary supporters.
The footage was shot on the ground as it happened. Emotions are raw in these scenes. The hand-held camera follows each subject closely wherever they are: at home, at a protest, or at the campaign headquarters of the defeated party. Visual conventions seen in most documentaries, such as talking head interviews, are present here, and though the directors’ styles might by slightly different, they come together seamlessly as the stories become the focal point. The eclectic helmers behind the camera include: Vikran Gandhi (Barry), Alison Klayman (Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry), Petra Epperlein (Karl Max City) and Bassam Tariq (These Birds Walk).
One of the most heartbreaking moments can be seen in this exclusive clip, where an undocumented couple from Santa Clara, who volunteer for community organization PACT, discuss their uncertain future with a DREAMer – whose livelihood is also at the whims of politicians. “Faith is all we have left,” says the woman in Spanish, with tears running down her face after learning that Trump might win. She wonders whether or not her life will be uprooted. She expresses her worry about the DREAMers she has tried to help and who could easily lose the opportunity to work and study without fear. Sadly now a year later, we know her fears were not unfounded because DACA has already been rescinded. “It is as if our work and our lives don’t matter,” she adds.
11/8/16 will be in theaters, on iTunes, and Video on Demand November 3, 2017.