Florida Fights Back

The Presidential election in Florida in 2004 did not have any of the controversy associated with the 2000 election. Things seemed to go swimmingly fine for George W. Bush, who won the state with a comfortable margin. Instead, the outcome of the election relied on Ohio, which did not call a winner until the next day. Florida Fights Back is a look back at the 2000 election (filmed well before the 2004 outcome), much like Unprecedented: The 2000 Election. In fact, two of the main subjects of Florida Fights Back, journalist Greg Palast and lawyer Vincent Bugliosi, were also features in Unprecedented as well as Orwell Rolls in His Grave. That's a lot of Palast and Bugliosi going around, and by this point in time, it's getting pretty old. The other two films relied on a much broader spectrum of 'proof' for their allegation. Florida Fights Back is a little different. It relies on Palast, Bugliosi, and Bob Kunst for most of the exposition, then serves as a record of what many Floridians did in reaction to the election.

This last point is important, because it completely changes the effect of the documentary. As an examination of whether Bush won or lost the election, Florida Fights Back fails. The starting assumption is that Bush stole the election, and Bugliosi (who is extremely vitriolic) and Palast present their opinion of what happened. To watch this documentary, this should be a starting point, regardless of whether one believes this or not. It allows the viewer to understand the outrage of the people featured. Co-Directors Bruce Yarock and Jeannine Ross followed a group of Floridians, particularly Bob Kunst, leader of the Oral Majority, as they protested and called upon legislators to investigate election results.

Looking at it this way is much more interesting. Yarock and Ross present a grass-roots view of how angry voters are responding to the events around them. Most surprising is how the Democratic Party seemed to shun them. As November passed, everybody seems resigned to the fact that Bush was President. Democrats reluctantly accepted the fact, but Kunst did not. Kunst tried to get answers from Democrats, but they essentially ignored him. They protested everybody, Republicans and Democrats, and did everything they could to get the word out, including protesting outside the Academy Awards (with the humorous slogan "No Bushit"). Kunst and his followers are ardent in their beliefs, almost too much so. They shout down various legislators, continually peppering them with questions without allowing for answers. It seems that the only answer they accept is theirs. If an independent panel came up with a conclusion contrary to what they wanted, they would probably find something wrong with those conclusions.

The effect of Florida Fights Back is blunted a bit by some of the choices that Ross and Yarock make. At points they have some silly animations of Bush and others, and a goofy score that sometimes is sometimes mocking. While this will elicit howls of laughter from the people that agree wholeheartedly with the film's assumptions, it otherwise seems a tad petty. Then Kunst decided to run for governor (he lost to Jeb Bush), which makes part of this film seem like an extended campaign video. So while it is an informative look at the reactions of a slice of Florida to the 2000 election, Ross and Yarock never identity how large the Oral Majority is, so it's hard to say how many Floridians felt as disenfranchised as they did.

Gerf Rates It: Okay.
49 minutes, Not Rated but would probably be a PG.

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