Special Public Screening of Sundance film "No Umbrella" at Cleveland City Hall

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 03/27/2006 - 00:11.
03/27/2006 - 18:00
03/27/2006 - 19:00




Laura Paglin, Producer/Director

Monday, March 27th, 2006 at 6:00 PM
In the Rotunda of Cleveland City Hall

No Umbrella – An Election Day In The City is about getting the vote out in Cleveland during the 2004 General Election and stars Fannie Lewis, Cleveland City Councilwoman for Ward 7. It premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah this past January and sold out at its Cleveland debut on Wednesday at the International Film Festival. Mayor Jackson’s Arts & Culture Initiative will show the entire short documentary in the Rotunda before the Cleveland City Council meeting.

Praise for the film is not just local... all reviews have been great and Laura has been contacted by many major film distributors and production houses who are tracking her work - she is hot! See why by joining her and 100s of fans to watch her now-famed documentary on local government in the heart of local government - Cleveland City Hall. You can be sure there will be an interesting cast of characters for this unique local premier... see you there.

More on Laura Paglin here:

More on "No Umbrella: Election Day in the City" here:

Review of "No Umbrella: Election Day in the City", from L.A. Splash Magazine (see below)...

"No Umbrella: Election Day in the City" a Frustrating Film--For Good Reasons and Bad

At 7:15 AM on November 2, 2004, lines for the national election are already long and full of people waiting to have a say on who the next president of the United States should be. Though the wishes of swing-state Ohio have come to fruition in the form of a heavily campaigned high voter turnout, reality sets in…  The election board apparently hasn’t planned appropriately for the explosive expansion of citizens eager to perform their civic duty.

Fannie Lewis gets frustrated on one of her many phone calls to fix the electoral issues

Fannie Lewis gets frustrated on one of her many phone calls to fix the electoral issues

Lines are an embarrassing hour and a half wait…and it’s raining.  Voters are restless, angry, and upset.  Some of them have to get to work, and others just have better things to do with their time than wait an hour and a half for a punch card.  And what’s worse is a lack of voting machines and officials to operate them.  Some are turned away. 

In the words of councilwoman Fannie Lewis, the heroic crusader of this short film, “We’ve prayed for rain but forgot to bring an umbrella.”  And strangely enough, the entire situation feels almost intentional—as if it’s meant to deter voters from having a say.

The Cleveland mayor steps in help lend a

The Cleveland mayor steps in help lend a "helping" hand

While it sounds like a fictional, or at least antiquated tale of attempted disenfranchisement, November 2, 2004 was exactly this frustrating for the citizens of Cleveland, Ohio’s Ward 7 on the city’s east side.  To prove it, “No Umbrella: Election Day in the City” is a disturbing look into this electoral disaster suffered by voters who were coincidentally poor, black, and mostly Democratic during an election year when the incumbent (and subsequent winner) was Republican. An official selection of the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, Lara Paglin’s 26-minute documentary is sure to rile viewers of any political affiliation. 

Though the larger story centers around the utter lack of organization on Election Day, and possible racially and politically motivated sabotage, main focus is given to Fannie Lewis, a courageous black councilwoman who takes it upon herself to fix the situation.  Unfortunately, her efforts appear thwarted at every turn.  Hours and dozens of phone calls later, Fannie becomes just as upset as those she is trying to please.  Given the run-around by numerous officials, and ignored by electoral councilman Michael Vu, more machines finally arrive, but inserts appear only at the behest he city’s mayor—who, while she seems interested in pleasing her constituents, also appears less sympathetic than you might expect from someone who’s own job lies in the hands of these voters in the future.

An impassioned voter sheds tears at her wait time

An impassioned voter sheds tears at her wait time

Hand-held and conventionally jumpy, the cinematography is an excellent choice for this subject matter.  It captures the immediateness and frustration of this fateful day, and the lack of focus and ever-changing perspective.  One minute we’re following the exploits of Lewis in her endeavors to help voters.  The next, we’re listening to reporters covering the disaster, or voters voicing their frustration that it’s taken two hours to vote.  For a 26-minute film, the viewer is just as tired as the voters for the lack of action being taken, and frustrated as if the same amount of hours have spanned in real-time waiting for a resolution that comes far too late in the game for forgiveness.

Two voters of opposing political views share their frustration at the election process

Two voters of opposing political views share their frustration at the election process

Right, left, or in-between, “No Umbrella: Election Day in the City” is sure to move viewers against foul electoral practices—whether the events of November 2, 2004 in Cleveland, Ohio were intentional political scams or not.  It shows disorganization from the top to bottom within our country’s own electoral practices, and proves that such actions (or lack thereof) within a nation such as the United States are unacceptable.  And while filmmaker Paglin moves people to action, this chronicle into the plight of voters on one day fails in one thing—giving its viewers an opportunity to take action themselves and preventing future mishaps.  We know the problem, but are given no options on how to fix it.


In the Rotunda of Cleveland City Hall
601 Lakeside Avenue
Cleveland, OH
United States