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Mr. Smith the Movie, A Must See!

July 28, 2006 Media, Politics/Policy 3 Comments

Can Mr. Smith Get To Washington Anymore? offers so much for the moviegoer: interesting characters, great story, humor, and emotion. The creative team behind this documentary have managed to highlight the workings of a congressional campaign without focusing on the political issues. This documentary is about people.

The story involves two different families. One is the Carnahan family with a long political history in Missouri with Russ Carnahan seeking to fill the congressional seat held by Dick Gephardt for 28 years. The other family is that of Jeff Smith, a young guy seeking to challenge the political establishment and the Carnahan family name.

Director Frank Popper followed Jeff Smith during the latter part of his bid to become a U.S. Congressman in 2004. With this we get to see the colorful side of a campaign, usually hidden to all but the insiders. More importantly we get to see real people working hard to make a real difference.

As a former candidate, albeit in a exponentially smaller race, I could completely relate to the issues faced by Smith and his team: honing message, persuading voters, making calls, going door-to-door, raising money, coordinating volunteers, and seeking endorsements. Working closely on my March 2005 aldermanic campaign was the film’s co-producer Mike Kime and another of Jeff Smith’s opponents, Corey Mohn. During my race I was having talks with Jeff Smith while he was teaching at Dartmouth, late at night we’d be instant messaging back and forth and he’d be pushing me on how many calls I made or how many doors I knocked on.

One of the hardest things I had to accept in my race was coming from nowhere, making a good challenge and yet not winning. It is very emotional. In the film we see this emotion from the candidate, staff and volunteers. This is the human side to this multi-layered story that is so compelling. During the film you are taken along for the emotional ride — you feel anger, excitement and disappointment along with the characters.

The pace of the 82-minute film is excellent with never a dull moment. Those who aren’t into politics, or even documentaries, should give this film serious consideration. And while I happen to know many of the people in the film it will be compelling to those that have never even set foot in Missouri.

Can Mr. Smith Get To Washington Anymore? is showing now through Thursday August 3, 2006 at the Tivoli on Delmar in University City. Click here to buy tickets online.

For those in other states you can see too:

• Los Angeles; August 18-24; Nuart Theatre
• Washington D.C.;September 22-28; E Street Cinema
• Boston; November 3-9; Kendall Square Cinema

For a few photos from the premier click here.

– Steve


Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Kelli says:

    We saw the doc tonight and it was inspiring, yet depressing at the same time. Jeff was a candidate that was the epitome of grassroots democracy in action, and yet he lost because he didn’t have one thing he couldn’t control: a famous name. I hope he wins in August and again in November, because he would be a refreshing, progressive voice in Jeff City, and hopefully there’s still a change he might get to Washington someday.

  2. Brandon says:

    Went and saw it last night and I was totally impressed. Jeff was perhaps the first canidate that I ever really got excited about, even more so in 2004 since it was my first big election. Finally someone in MY district that really represents MY views.

    Although I knew the film wouldn’t have a happy ending, in fact my eyes got “watery” towards the end, it was quite moving and it shows that the little guy can make a difference within the big machine.

    I too hope he can make it to Jefferson City this fall and I’m rooting for him even if he is not in my district.

  3. Jim Zavist says:

    Saw it last night. Reminded me of many campaigns I’ve been associated with. And Jeff looks to have a great future, for all the right reasons!


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