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Conventioneers | Review

Showing your True Colors

Low budget romance pits the blue states versus the red.

Thematically drilling the narrative with the notion of the great divide, filmmaker Mora Stephens uses much more than blue and red plastic Dixie cups to contextually place her romantic drama in an air of political instability, she uses what NYC is perhaps best known for, – it’s zealous like personality. Winner of the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards John Cassavetes award, more than just a matter of being at the right place at the right time and by including a fictional document juxtaposed to a very real backdrop, Conventioneers is a testament to true guerilla style filmmaking. Unfortunately, while Stephens appears to have smartly developed the context of her story, it is the storyline between a Bush supporter and a democrat that appears to be on far shakier ground than the one of a post 9/11 city.

Using the energetic source of a city full of protests, free speech and hand made billboards, Stephen’s weak storyline of 30-somethings of a sign language translator who may or may not sabotage a political speech and a pair of former classmates who’ve found their calling with politics but having it all unravel through finding fulfillment in the sack could have sorely used a more politically incorrect tone in terms of the dialogue. Instead of drumming up big emotions and leaning towards the dramatic, this narrative could have benefited from riskier, less lucid ideas with a Jason Patric character like cynicism.

How does one get excellent location setting coverage without hiring a bunch of extras? You flow permitless through the wave of conflict and blend yourself in a crowd during a political convention. Stephens brilliantly places her oeuvre inside a political crisis and inside the timeline of an historical event and thus gives the better part of her film a raw rhythm that matches the pulsating energy of a city on fire. Despite the video look, the film compensates through sharp editing and grabs a couple of nice medium shots from hotel room vantage points.

If such a storyline were to exist, I would hope that the two key players would have come equipped with less solace and more bite, and though Stephens isn’t afraid of putting her camera in the harsh currents it would have been nice to play it less safe with the sappy one night stand at a cross roads in life storyline. Though I’d be surprised that this film doesn’t gather dust in the same manner as most campaign paraphernalia does, the timely autumn release might give this one theatre limited run a boost. Make sure that you stay for the end credits for an Al Franklin impromptu and a fun count at the total amount of hours that the crew spent in the slammer for filming in public.

Rating 1.5 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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