Slay the Dragon
Magnolia Pictures
Reviewed by: Tami Smith, Film Reviewer for Shockya
Grade: B+
Director: Barak Goodman, Chris Durrance
Screenwriter: Barak Goodman, Chris Durrance
Cast: Katie Fahey , Ari Berman, David Daley, Margaret Dickson, Anita Earls, Ruth Greenwood, Chris Jankowski, Justin Levitt, Vann Newkirk
Release Date: April 3, 2020

Redistricting is the process of setting up district lines after reapportionment.
Gerrymandering is drawing district boundaries to give one party an advantage.

Mention “Redistricting” or “Gerrymandering” to folks on the street of Any Town, U.S.A. and you may get blank stares. ”That is politics” people may say or “So Who cares”. Directors Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance cared enough to create Slay the Dragon, a documentary film explaining Gerrymandering, Cracking (diluting the voting power of the opposing party’s supporters across many districts) and Packing (concentrating the opposing party’s voting power in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts).

Gerrymandering, Cracking and Packing were formatted to lessen the influence of political, ethnic, racial, linguistic or religious groups. This fiasco was introduced by Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814), a Democratic-Republican who ran for the governorship of Massachusetts and won the election in 1810. During his second term the legislature approved new districts in the state and Gerry signed the bill, thus creating a new district in the Boston area that resembled a salamander.

One Michigan woman, Katie Fahey, was angry enough to rise against Gerrymandering. She created Voters Not Politicians with the aim of banning Gerrymandering in the state, and organized volunteers to collect 425,000 signatures for a ballot amending Michigan’s constitution and creating an independent redistricting commission. After some lawsuits by opponents, the state electorate voted to pass Proposal 2 on November 2018. Her struggle with all the procedural ups and downs is documented brilliantly in Slay the Dragon. Do not miss her dog’s amusing vocal participation.

Directors Goodman and Durrance also discuss the influence of deep-pocketed corporate donors on state campaigns; the appointment of non-elected “finance managers” to deal with Michigan’s fiscal crisis by rearranging Flint’s water supply, thus causing unnecessary health problems for the poor; the discrimination against poor minorities by requiring them to show ID cards at voting centers; changing voting locations to out-of-reach places; and the elimination of collective bargaining for public employees.

Slay the Dragon is a well-done, exciting documentary, good enough for year-end Best Documentary awards nominations.

101 minutes Rated: NR © Tami Smith, Film Reviewer

Story: A-
Acting: B
Technical: B+
Overall: B+

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