Marshall Curry's "Street Fight" tracks newcomer Corey Booker's struggle to unseat a powerful sixteen-year incumbent in the 2002 Newark, NJ mayoral race. The captivating film, nominated for an Oscar, demonstrates Booker's determination to bring change to a city suffering from dirty politics, and his opponents equal determination to stay in control.
Booker might have faced an uphill struggle, but as a city councilmember, he came from within the system. That wasn't the case for Doris Haddock, the subject of Marlo Poras' "Run Granny Run." The 94-year-old grandmother makes for an unlikely political candidate as the New Hampshire resident decides to make an unexpected, last-minute bid for the US Senate. The result is an inspiring and often funny look at American politics.
On the surface, it might seem like the subject of Ebrahim Mokhtari's "Zinat, One Special Day" is also an unlikely would-be politician. However, Zinat has been a trailblazer for more than a decade in her native Iran, breaking boundaries for women as a health care worker and advocate. When local elections for the village council are announced for the first time since the revolution, Zinat and her husband both enter the race to empower not only women but the lives of all of her neighbors.
Kristian Fraga's "Anytown USA" similarly looks at local politics, focusing on the stranger-than-fiction 2003 race for Bogota, NJ's mayor. The unpopular, and legally blind, Republican incumbent faces tough competition from not only a Democratic challenger, but also from the former local football hero - a write-in independent who happens to be legally blind as well. Smalltown politics humorously serve up the challenges of polarized partisanship as these three duke it out for the top spot.
The Presidential election exposes partisan politics in the most forceful sense, as is demonstrated in Rebecca Chaiklin and Donovan Leitch's "The Party's Over." Philip Seymour Hoffman serves as a host exposing the failings of the democratic process as he explores both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions on the road to the contentious 2000 federal election.
The potential for the political process to be corrupted is at the core of Jeff Reichert's "Gerrymandering." This eye-opening investigation into redistricting exposes the questionable power of politicians to sidestep the will of the people for personal or party gain.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Indiewire @ Hulu Docs" is a regular column spotlighting the Iw-curated selections on Hulu's Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge. Disclosure: Some of the selections are titles provided to Hulu by SnagFilms, the parent company of Indiewire.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance, Shorts & Panel Programmer for DOC NYC, and a consultant to documentary filmmakers and festivals. Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).