1968 was an unusual year thats for sure. Hippies abounded, war continued to ravage Americas youth in Vietnam, and racial tensions were running high at home.

The award winning Independent Lens series opens this seasons offering with a Chicago 10, this is the story of the buildup and eventual unraveling of the Chicago Conspiracy Trial. Not familiar with this story? Well in summary it revolves around the 1968 Democratic National Convention which was held in Chicago. An antiwar group known as The Mobilization had been denied permits for a legal march, feeling that they were being unfairly prevented from voicing their political views, they marched anyway.

Confrontation was waiting them in the form of Mayor Richard Daley’s police force. Unarmed protesters faced armed cops. To say the least, this was an unfair fight. Bloody riots erupted, inner cities became war zones. Was it race, was it a rising against the establishment, was it a genuine hate of the Vietnam conflict, or was it all three? Most Americans looked on in shock and horror, how could this be happening they asked themselves?

As the dust settled eight of the most vocal activists were brought to trial. The trial was unlike anything seen before, Black Panther leader Bobby Seale so incensed Judge Julius Hoffman that he ended up being gagged and bound in the courtroom!

I hear you ask, if there were only 8 of them, why call it the Chicago 10? Thats a good question, the other two are made up by the two lawyers that were each given contempt sentences!

Film maker Brett Morgen has taken a very novel approach in the production of this documentary, he seamlessly mixes vintage news footage, contemporary commentary, and animation. Yes folks, cartoons. There were no cameras at the trial, but using the court transcripts Brett Morgen has brought the drama, and humor to life.
This is ‘must see’ TV, Chicago 10 has scored big on the film festival circuit, and it is great to see it arriving where the mass market can finally get to view this ground breaking documentary. It airs tonight (Oct/22) at 9pm on PBS. PBS have also set up a companion site with more information.

Simon Barrett

Be Sociable, Share!