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THE MOVIE: Battle in Seattle

Charlize Theron • Martin Henderson • Ray Liotta • Woody Harrelson • Michaelle Rodriguez • Jennifer Carpenter
DIRECTOR: Stuart Townsend

Spotlighting the five days in 1999 when tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Seattle, Washington, in protest of the World Trade Organization, the movieís story is played out through the eyes of several participants with different points-of-view from protestors and police to delegates and government officials.

U.S. RELEASE: September 26 2008, Nationwide • Rated: R


Woody Harrelson and colleagues

ďI was in Dublin in 1999, but I remembered the riots. But I didnít really get much context, which is why I wrote it. I started researching this event in 2002. It took about a year and half to research it and work out how I wanted to write it. It took me six months to write it, and then it took me about two years to rewrite it, and then we started getting financing after that. I was blown away by this event and thought, ĎI donít think most people even remember this.í That was one of the reasons why I wanted to re-examine it and bring it to the big screen.Ē

MARTIN HENDERSON (Jay, one of the protestors):
Martin Henderson & Michelle RodriguezďI was in America as a student at the time of the [riots], but Iím from New Zealand, so I would go back and forth and see my family. What was curious to me was that I found more awareness of the event, and the issues that the event was about, in New Zealand, just having talks with friends and colleagues. And I found it very interesting that when I was in America there were less people that knew about it, even though it happened here and it was a domestic issue. The real issues were not really broadcast. Iím curious about how the world runs. You see things and you try to figure out the reasons for it. Usually, if you follow the money, you get the answers. When youíve got starving people, how can trade determine things like that? That food could be eaten, but thereís not profit in it. So when I read the script that Stuart had written, I was just amazed that someone had actually bothered to get their scalpel into this event, and the issues surrounding it.Ē

ďThe protest movement has almost been relegated to a sideshow circus. Itís corporate media, so thereís definitely a connection there. I think the media is at fault, but at the same time, itís a for-profit business, so itís understandable that they focus on spectacle rather than in-depth issues. Thatís a real problem. If you dismantled the media consolidation thatís happened in this country, that would be a first step in breaking the gridlock with the power of corporate media.Ē

ďStuart created my character of Jay when he wrote it. I just interpret that and bring myself to it. It was a great character to play because not only is he motivated by the possibility of political change, and he has a certain cross to bear with that, but he has this emotional agenda as well, seeking vengeance for the death of someone he loved. So there was an intensity and a drive to him that is lovely to portray. Itís a real heroic part, heís someone thatís willing to sacrifice his freedom and, ultimately, almost completely does, in order to achieve what he thinks is better, not even for himself, but for the planet and Humanity.Ē

TOWNSEND on why there is no outrage today:
ďThatís the whole point of the film. Ironically, Seattle was such a victory that it was never going to be allowed to happen again, the police presence is completely overwhelming [at events now]. Meaningful descent has been crushed. Look at the financial crisis this week. We are being asked to give $700 billion of taxpayersí money to the guys who [screwed] the system up in the first place. Where is the outrage? I just donít understand that. This film is hopefully an attempt to try to bring a new audience in and get them outraged. Itís the same issue that people were fighting in í99. It was the same economic system that they were fighting against, thatís just brought us this crisis this week.Ē

ďI think thereís an apathy with younger people, in the sense where they just think, ĎOh, thatís the way it is.í I protested the war. I donít believe it was a just war, and it smelled fishy from the get-go. It seemed very convenient that certain things aligned and, all of a sudden, we were going into this country, so I protested when I could. Even in Australia, I went to anti-war marches and stuff. I really think the government here did a really clever job of making anybody that would protest feel like they were not American and they were unpatriotic. There was a real culture of fear that prevented people from voicing their right to say, ĎI donít think this is just.íĒ

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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