BEST FILM - 2002
I'm Sorry I Was Right
One of the most fascinating characters in 20th-century Minnesota history--former Sen. Eugene McCarthy, best known for his impassioned 1968 campaign against the Vietnam War--is the subject of this half-hour documentary directed for the St. Paul-based Center for International Education by Mike Hazard (a.k.a. Media Mike). Nicknamed "Needle" on Capitol Hill because of his wit, McCarthy remains sharp in his 80s. This is true whether he's reading his own poetry about headless chickens and our equally headless endeavor in Southeast Asia; or holding court on Clinton's folly with other old geezers in a convenience store near his current home in rural Virginia; or deconstructing the War Department's subtly insidious name change to the Defense Department, thus implying the existence of a constant threat. Hazard's film (which screened on KTCA-TV and at the most recent Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival) deftly mixes archival footage with talking-head interviews and gently observed scenes of McCarthy speaking to create a disarming portrait of an enduring activist. Here's a politician whose age, experience, and background encourage him to raise his voice against the dangerous control of corporate media, the unlimited power of the military-industrial complex, and the injustice of tax breaks for the wealthy. The Watkins, Minnesota-born McCarthy also acknowledges his impending death in this half-hour, but the film, to its great credit, is designed as a fond tribute to his continuing history.