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This Divided State (2005)

Cast: Jay Vogel, Jay Vogel, Jim Bassey, more...
Director: Steven Greenstreet, Steven Greenstreet
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Disinformation
Genre: Documentary, Political & Social Issues, Religion
Running Time: 88 min.
Languages: English
    see additional details...

The state of Utah has long been home to the American headquarters of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (better known as the Mormons), and as befits the straight-laced lifestyle dictated by the faith, Utah tends to be a solidly conservative community and traditionally supportive of Republican candidates. However, many gained a perspective on just how conservative Utah was in September 2004, when filmmaker and leftist activist Michael Moore was invited to speak on the campus of Utah Valley State College in Orem, UT two weeks before the presidential election. While UVSC organizers expected some degree of controversy, no one anticipated the bitter firestorm of criticism that resulted, with many community leaders denouncing Moore and demanding that the event be canceled, with some on the event committee receiving death threats. (Joe Vogel, the student body vice-president who helped spearhead Moore's appearance, happened to be a former Mormon missionary and card-carrying Republican who believed that Moore's right to speak outweighed his own opinion about his views.) One of the most outspoken critics was businessman Kay Anderson, who was especially critical of the fact UVSC were paying Moore an honorarium to speak on campus. Anderson, who told reporters Moore "hates our values and would like to destroy us," offered the school 25,000 dollars to cancel the event. As tempers flared, some supporters of Moore's visit questioned the political influence of the Mormon church in Utah, while others wondered if someone can be a good Mormon and a liberal at the same time. This Divided State is a documentary directed by Steven Greenstreet, who studied at both Brigham Young University and UVSC, which offers a bird's-eye view of the controversy with a number of community and student representatives on both sides of the issue contributing their views. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

The Ties That Divide by talltale October 21, 2005 - 7:50 AM PDT
6 out of 6 members found this review helpful
A most interesting and surprising documentary, THIS DIVIDED STATE details the pre-, during and post-furor over the scheduled appearance of documentarian Michael Moore at a Utah college, just prior to the last presidential election. Whatever side director Stephen Greenstreet (who is said to have dropped out of college in order to make this movie) is on, he gives plenty of time and voice to the talking heads (and bodies) of both the pro- and anti- Bush and Moore factions.

The appearance is to take place at a thoroughly Mormon and Republican venue, yet there are a surprising number of liberal voices present, and the majority of the students seem eager and willing to give these voices a chance to be heard--if not agreed with. We meet the student body officers who decided--along with their teachers and administration--to invite Moore, certain gung-ho students who want him barred from campus, and a very outwardly pleasant but scary-as-hell citizen who lives nearby the campus and campaigns mightily to stop the event.

By its end, the film has evolved into an unresolved mystery of how and why a certain party resigned from office, and we've witnessed the coming of Moore, as well as Fox News' Sean Hannity. The former does his usual grandstanding, while the latter offers his usual sleazy, name-calling grandstanding. There are chilling moments, as well as very funny ones, and lots of read-between-the-lines ideas that make "This Divided State" 90 minutes of supremely tasty food for thought.

While I hate to think of any bright student having to drop out of college, I must admit the results appear worth it. I hope Greenstreet made enough money off this movie to pay for his remaining education--as well as the opportunity to make more films this thoughtful, energetic and entertaining.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.30)
20 Votes
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