Reporting Eric Henderson
Remember the RNC Welcoming Committee? That group of self-described anarchists who were caught supposedly planning to shatter Molotov cocktails at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul?
Informant covers the participation of an FBI informant who helped the feds crack down on them before they were ever able to follow through with their plan. But was that actually ever their plan, or did the idea behind the cocktails actually come from the person who was there to infiltrate their ranks?
Directed by Jamie Meltzer, Informant centers around the purportedly enigmatic figure of Brandon Darby, the activist who helped found the grassroots Common Ground Relief group to help New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina but, more to the point, prevent people from taking the law into their own hands and to prevent the law from taking advantage of the people it was intended to protect.
With a style somewhat indebted to Errol Morris, Meltzer indulges in recreations, voice-over testimonials and deliberately juxtaposed interviews that contradict each other to impress upon viewers the still unsettled aura around those events, which led to the arrest and conviction of David McKay and Bradley Crowder, who were barely into their 20s during the ’08 convention.
The benefit of the doubt, however, seems to be handed over to Darby, who is presented as a charismatic, self-starting go-getter who achieves what he sets out to do, to hell with the consequences. (It must be noted that Darby’s antics notably still stick in the craw of his Common Ground peers.)
It’s either that, or Meltzer decided to give Darby just enough rope to hang himself with. His bravado is shown in stark contrast to the post-collegiate crowd that made up the rest of the RNC Welcoming Committee, the type who would order lattes at coffee shops and get ribbed by Darby for it.
Regardless of what you emerge from Informant believing, the documentary should play extremely well for local audiences who want to once again remember what those four eventful days were like in the Twin Cities.
The Informant plays at St. Anthony Main Theater today at 5 p.m. with an additional screening on Sunday, April 21 at 5:10 p.m.
Other Highlights: Friday, April 18
The Enigma of Frank Ryan. The ambivalence of political positioning figures directly into the gestalt of this, ahem, enigmatic look at Ireland on the cusp of WWII. (6:45 p.m., with an additional screening on Saturday, April 20 at 1:15 p.m.)
Mud. The renaissance of Matthew McConaughey continues with director Jeff Nichols’ follow up to the festival hit Take Shelter. Mud details the end of innocence for two childhood best friends in the Deep South. (7:10 p.m.)
Jackpot A Norwegian film? In the Late Night program? Oh, it’s true. Director Magnus Marens’s black comedy spins wicked ollies on the archtypical noir “wronged man” theme. (9:55 p.m., with an additional screening on Saturday, April 27 at 10:30 p.m.)
Throughout the entirety of the 2013 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, we’ll be spotlighting one notable movie each day, along with other notable screenings. To see the WCCO Movie Blog’s complete coverage on the MSPIFF, click here.