Unconvention

Unconvention: A Mix-Tape from St. Paul

Documentary (2009). 126 min.

Producer/Director: Christopher Strouth
Executive Producers: Dan Jagunich, Joan Sekler, Steve Dietz
Associate Producer: Alek Roslik
Editor: Dylan Thies
Sound: Greg Reierson



Political party conventions are not known for being memorable, except of course when they are. '68 ring a bell? For four days in September of 2008 the Republicans took over the sleepy city of Saint Paul and it became, in a very real sense, a battleground. Smoke bombs, percussion grenades, pepper spray and journalist arrests bid for attention with Policy, Palin and McCain.

It was a convention unlike any other: The party of the least popular sitting president since Hoover, a hurricane, and a lot of protesters. Another new addition: an army of independent journalists to cover it.

Unconvention is a film about all of this, told through the eyes of the media. Ultra-Conservative, Ultra-Liberal and everything in between; this is an abstract portrait of a very concrete process, remixed into a new linear whole.

The film uses a collective process to tell a collective story, using found footage from dozens of journalists, citizen journalists and just plain citizens. A mash-up of modern media, from HD to cell phone cameras telling the lost story of police, protestors and civil liberties.

Director's Statement

"A convention is a convention, whether it belongs to dentists, Shriners or the Republican Party. And although a convention of Shriners or dentists may prove to have greater historical significance, the Republican National Convention outweighs them by sheer size and the fact that the eyes of the world descend upon our cities for a few brief days.

A bit like the film Ace in the Hole about a small news event, that quickly becomes a circus, and becomes a story about the people reporting the news rather then the news itself. For a few brief days, and several millions of dollars, the sleepy metropolis of St. Paul gets transformed into cyber age Tokyo with video screens, art installations, and a variety of other shenanigans; protesters, supporters and miscellaneous circus folk from both sides of the isle.

The film is as much about media as it is the convention itself, using work from a number of sources cut together in seamless remix. Pieces from major news organizations blend with citizen journalists, protesters, reporters, and plain old citizens. Made in an 8 week period, this is a pop abstract expressionist unbiased view of very biased process."

— Chris Strouth