No Umbrella - An Election Day in Cleveland at its best, and at its worst

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 03/27/2006 - 22:59.


The grand theater of the Cleveland City Hall rotunda was the perfect setting to see NEO filmmaker Laura Paglin's acclaimed documentary "No Umbrella – An Election Day In The City". Thanks to Mayor Frank Jackson "Arts and Cultural Initiative", probably 100 citizens clearly enjoyed the free showing immediately preceded the city council meeting. The "star" of the documentary, long-standing and much-beloved councilwoman Fannie Lewis, was the star of the screening as well, as she and filmmaker Paglin answered questions following the show.

"No Umbrella – An Election Day In The City" premiered and was very well received this Spring at Sundance, and just premiered locally at the Cleveland Film Festival, to a sold out crowd. I believe this City Hall screening has been the only other public showing. The audience was not film-goers but government-doers, in their place of work, and citizens attracted to an important story, important people, and valuable outcomes, in the heart of the city.

"No Umbrella" is a 26-minute demonstration that filmmaking matters to NEO. A tree fell in the woods and Paglin was there to catch it, so we know it really did fall. In these times, having such authentic insight is critical to freedom. Through "No Umbrella" we get to participate in election day in this city, and that is brutal. Not participating and learning from failure would be far worse for all.

Through Paglin's unassuming camerawork, perfect placement, and tight editing, we are brought front and center in a chaotic and foreign place and time - this could be anywhere, and just down the street. Throughout the film, we who know NEO are treated to authentic experiences with veteran civil rights champion Fannie Lewis, but we don't need to know NEO or the Councilwoman to appreciate her heroism and grace. And, while the people of Ward 7 make you proud to say you are from Cleveland, you would be drawn in by them regardless of origins. In other words, the documentary works - it stands on its own - it's global and timeless.