City Desk

Politics, Free Speech, Democracy and Media at the Covellite International Film Festival this weekend

By Diane Larson
During election years we are flooded with political ads; the news programs are telling us who is good, who is bad, who is lying, who is telling the truth and ultimately who to vote for. Yet, our candidate might be a third-party and we feel discouraged because the past has shown us the third-party never even gets attention, let alone wins. All of the information just makes your head hurt because in the end so often we feel it doesn’t matter. How often have we heard, well my vote doesn’t count. A film that is being screened this weekend at the Covellite International Film Festival explores this topic and looks at the underlying reasons we feel this way and explores what we can do to make a difference. 
Filmmaker Jesse Bertel will be in Butte this weekend screening his documentary Left Out: Beyond the Two Party Horse Race. The film will be shown Saturday at noon in the Mountain View Music Hall at 301 Montana Street. 
This film is an exploration of the American political system set against the backdrop of corporate media and how that relationship affects free speech and democracy. It questions the two-party system and explores why it is difficult or nearly impossible for a third-party candidate to be taken seriously or get much media attention. “I want people to be able to see the truth, to understand what is happening in media and in the political arena,” said Jesse. He also went on to say, “I want the overall takeaway be that we can run a third-party candidate and win.”
“I think it is important to understand that third party candidates are marginalized in many different ways,” says Jesse. This film looks at the ways third-party political candidates are marginalized by the big news media, by the public and our governing powers. It also explores how the public or the masses also feel marginalized as well by the current two-party system. Do we have a democracy in this country where all voices are heard as we have been led to believe, or is it a plutocracy, a government run only by and for the wealthy. Also, is the two-party system working or is it a dichotomy—even a false dichotomy? 
To look at all of these issues Jesse interviews American linguist, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky, host of Democracy Now Amy Goodman and American political activist Ralph Nader.  He asks them, why don’t third-party’s work, among other questions.  The discussions revolve around, democracy vs. plutocracy, free speech and political spoilers, which is a term used to describe the third-party candidates. 
Jesse uses the setting of the third-party campaign of Luis J. Rodriquez who was running as the Green Party candidate for governor of California against Jerry Brown in 2014 to support the narrative.
My goal for this film, says Jesse “is to open peoples eye’s, educate them to what is going on…that third party candidates are relevant in today’s politics and that they can provide realistic solutions if they are not ignored by media.” He also said, “I wanted to do what the media wasn’t doing, pay attention to them. To show people there is a reason we should be looking at these people.”
In the end, Jesse says, “there is an alternative message here, we can change the discussion.”
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