The F Word (2005)

Dir: Jed Weintrob
Star: Josh Hamilton

When his New York community radio station gets closed by the FCC, host Joe Pace (Hamilton) takes his show to the streets for a final marathon 16-hour broadcast, set against the backdrop of the 2004 Republic Convention – and the demonstrations which drew hundreds of thousands to protest. It’s a seamless mix of genuine interviews and staged/scripted encounters, which presents a fascinating picture of the city, albeit from an almost relentlessly liberal viewpoint. About the only view dissenting from “Bush is the anti-Christ” comes from a remarkably well-spoken construction worker (Michael Tenaglia), who finds little to support in Republicans or Democrats. He got our vote. It does raise many interesting issues, in a country where free-speech is becoming less a right, than a privilege afforded to those who can afford it.

And what’s the point of protesting? Certainly, those shown here did very little; the Republicans still won the election, and about all that’s really changed is the body-count in Iraq. It may be, as the film suggests, that it’s more about a sense of community + solidarity for those taking part, letting them feel they’re not alone. But the blurring of the documentary/fictional line here becomes more questionable, especially when they criticize the mass media or politicians for twisting facts. I mean, Sam Rockwell shows up, which does confuse things a bit. Still, Hamilton is an extremely likeable persona, very easy to spend time with, even if you don’t necessarily agree with the politics espoused here. It would, however, probably help.