Description from TIFF 2006 catalog by Thom Powers:

The United States presidential race between George W. Bush and John Kerry two years ago was ultimately decided by a narrow margin in Ohio; a truism often repeated during this turbulent time was “as goes Ohio, so goes the nation.” Leading up to Election Day, both the Republican and Democratic parties poured resources into the state. Passions and tempers ran high. Each party accused the other of dirty tricks: Democrats decried tactics to suppress voter turnout; Republicans claimed fake voters were being registered.

To understand the future of U.S. elections, we must first understand Ohio. Directors James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo had the foresight to see this; during the election race, they brought multiple camera crews there to study what took place. …So Goes the Nation follows political foot soldiers from both sides. The ground-level observation is combined with the insights of top Democratic and Republican political strategists in post-election interviews.

The film captures the tremendous passion, anger and energy evident on both sides, from the hard work of the volunteers to the ugly verbal brawls that took place during late-night rallies. The filmmakers aren~t pushing an agenda or favouring either candidate; they want to examine objectively the factors that produced Bush~s victory.

In contrast to news-digest talk shows where punditry is treated as a blood sport, the interviews here are reflective and self-critical. Democratic advisor Paul Begala provides a witty and acute analysis of the Kerry campaign~s lack of focus. He recalls asking a Kerry advisor to explain the campaign~s message; the reply was JHOS “~ Jobs, Health, Oil, Security. “That~s not a message,” says Begala, “when Bush~s message is “~I will protect you from those who will murder you and [Kerry won~t]~ “~ and we~re saying JHOS?”

But the heart of the film lies with the average citizens who offer a stirring illustration of what it means to participate in a democracy. This film will serve as inspiration for future political battles: If you don~t like what~s happening in politics “~ do something to change it.

About the directors:
James D. Stern was born in Chicago and received an MBA from Columbia University. He has produced numerous films, including Proof (05) and Stay Alive (06). He made his feature directorial debut with All the Rage, which screened at the Festival in 1999. He has also co-directed three documentaries: Michael Jordan to the Max (co-director, 00), The Year of the Yao (co-director, 04), which screened at the Festival in 2004, and …So Goes the Nation (co-director, 06).

Adam Del Deo was born in Portland, Oregon and studied political science at the University of Redlands. He was one of the producers of James D. Stern~s directorial debut, All the Rage (99), and has since co-directed two documentaries with Stern: The Year of the Yao (co-director, 04) and …So Goes the Nation (co-director, 06).

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