Back to the Seventies
Four Days In Chicago
Commentary: Haskell Wexler, Tom Hayden, Vijay Prashad, James Foley, Jan Rodolfo and Graham Clumpner
Director: Haskell Wexler
Cinematography: Haskell Wexler
Composers: Greg Landau and Camilo Landau
Company: Outpost Studios/Perigo Productions
Rating: Not rated but could be PG 13
Running Length: 83 minutes
Screened at Kansas City International Film Festival (KIFF) October 5, 2013
Nominee for Best Documentary
*Haskell Wexler’s documentary, “Four Days In Chicago,” shows the audience what happened when Mayor Rahm Emanuel invited NATO leaders to come to Chicago for a NATO Summit  in May 2012. The leaders are associated with peace and war and thus began a ripple of opposition to the invitation. 27 million dollars was spent on security for the leaders and to protect them from who? Where did this money come from? As stated in the film and credited to author George Orwell, “During the times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a crime.”
Gradually, tension builds as groups, within and without the city, plan displays of protest. Though some interviewed say this is not the Seventies with peace symbols and sit-down protests, this is what it looks like in Chicago. Here, there and in that place, are small opposition groups with picket signs, and ready-to-use microphones and portable stages to get their messages across. The phrases “99%” and “1%” are used and the one percent are the ones with money, while the rest are, well...the rest.
Wexler’s camera is everywhere as we progress from Day One to Day Two and onward. The National Nurses Union, who legally had a permit to march as their convention was in Chicago at this same time, are shown wearing Robin Hood caps, so they can be identified. To become part of their peaceful demonstration, people are asked to sign a Non-Violent Pledge. Another group, Code Pink, wears pink for their symbol. The 99% hold signs that read “Tax Wall Street.”
Intensity builds. “Occupy Chicago” is barely headline news, so many parts of the country aren't aware of more than one or two demonstrations or that entire Plaza’s are peopled with peace symbols, motorcycles, and police. There is a scuffle by Roosevelt University. Everyone has something to say. Iraq Veterans Against The War bring medals to throw into the river as a protest against war and those invited countries who are considered warlike. In a split-screen shot, a ceremony is going on where uniformed members of the military of the invited countries are marching through the Assembly Hall as “Taps” is played, while at the same time, in the street are marchers and “Taps,” also. Two versions of the same occurence and the screen is as split as the commentary between nations and their peoples. So the question is posed, exactly who is the government for? The 1% or the 99% or the entire 100%? Does “United We Stand“ mean “united for the 1%“ and “united for the 99%?” “By the people and for the people…..” does not differentiate. 
I found the documentary to be revealing, but at the same time with one-too-many long shots of people standing around or police officers in full uniform, also standing around. It was as though the interviewer was running the camera while waiting for an opportunity for a question. There is a great soundtrack but no one credited for the music. I didn't realize how many variations of police uniforms there are. Haskell Wexler appears on the side of the screen from time to time as a commentator. If you didn't know what happened in Chicago during the four days, this is an opportunity to observe and see what the Seventies was like. History does repeat itself.
*Reference: Haskell Wexler won the Academy Award twice for Cinematography, once for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and the second time for "Bound For Glory." He was also nominated for "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Copyright 2013 Marie Asner