“Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry” Motivating Young Voters with Screenings in 48 States
by Brian Brooks
2004 Toronto International Film Festival documentary “Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry” by acclaimed director George Butler is at the center of a final voter campaign push organized by MoveOn.org. The liberal advocacy group’s Student Action Network’s “Leave No Voter Behind” program has recruited college students nationwide to organize nearly 1,000 screenings of the film in six days in 48 states. Celebs will also take part in several screenings across the country, including Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Paul Newman, Brendan Fraser, Cher, Dermot Mulroney and others.
“Going Upriver” examines Democratic presidential nominee Senator John Kerry’s military duty in Vietnam complete with footage of him serving as a Swift boat captain in the Mekong Delta, and his ultimate involvement in the peace movement following his two tours of duty. Move On hopes the film will serve as a final catalyst to motivate young voters to go to the polls November 2nd and defeat the current administration. According to the political action group, upwards of 84% of 18-24 year-olds will vote this year, compared to about 50% in the 2000 election. Their participation could be a deciding factor in what is an obviously closely contested race.
“Our members embraced this campaign, and took it further than we ever imagined,” commented Ben Brandzel, director of Move On.org’s Student Action Network, in a statement. “We know our times call for brave leadership — and this film is not just about John Kerry, but about the courage of an entire generation that rallied around Kerry, brought down a corrupt administration and ended an unjust war. That’s the kind of courage we all need today.”
“Having participated in Q&As for the film all over the country, the passion of this age group is clear,” added Butler, in a statement. “These people are the future of America, and I am pleased that ‘Going Upriver’ is furthering their involvement in this year’s election. The celebrities who have donated their time, and the response they have gotten from the students, has been truly inspiring as well.”
Butler is credited with discovering Arnold Schwarzenegger in his doc, “Pumping Iron,” and counts “The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition” among his credits. “Going Upriver,” a THINKFilm release, is also showing in select theaters and is available on DVD.
[For more information on Move On’s Student Action Network activities and organized events, visit their website and enter a zip code.]