I had the opportunity to attend the screening of “The Undefeated” in Chicago on Saturday. The screening was announced late on Wednesday night and was shown on Saturday at noon, meaning that there was roughly 60 hours between the announcement and the screening itself. In spite of this, a lack of traditional advertising, and its liberal Chicago location, even known Palin critic, Roger Ebert, noted that the 200 seat theater was nearly full. The location of the theater was particular interesting, as it was situated just across the street from where Bill Maher would be “performing “later that evening and only a few blocks away from President Obama’s reelection headquarters, placing the theater in the symbolic midst of both Governor Palin’s personal attacks and her political opposition.
The reaction to the film has been a delight to see. As the Chicago Sun Times noted, even Chicago Democrats came away with a new found respect for Governor Palin:
Eddie Bryant, who attended the screening of “The Undefeated” at downtown’s Gene Siskel Film Center, is an African-American and Chicago Democrat. The retired 67-year-old Union Pacific employee said he was surprised to find he actually likes Palin.
“I came because my friend is always talking about Sarah Palin. People say this lady is brainless. She’s not only smart, but she’s a clean-government person. I gained respect for her,” Bryant said.
Roger Ebert, known for tweeting and writing rather hateful comments about Governor Palin, wrote a review that was relatively mild by the standards of any harsh critic of Governor Palin. If anything, the most revealing aspect of Ebert’s review is his inability to understand the difference between conservatives and Republicans. Yes, Mr.Ebert, sometimes the protagonist and the antagonists are on the same team.
Ebert also noted that the audience was attentive and began cheering when a clip from Rick Santelli’s now famous “rant” on the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange was played. Applause erupted about a half a dozen times throughout the film particularly when memorable lines from Governor Palin’s speeches were shown. All in all, a very receptive audience in Chicago. Stephen Bannon engaged in a nice question and answer session with attendees following the film.
From my personal perspective, I had the opportunity to see a rough cut a few weeks ago, but seeing the finished version with nearly two hundred other individuals in a theater is completely different than watching it on your couch in front of a 20 inch TV screen. The spirit of The Undefeated showed throughout the film. Governor Palin took on the oil companies and won. She took on the political establishment and won. She took on corruption and won. It was not only her accomplishments that make the title “The Undefeated”, but the attitude which Governor Palin and the Tea Party movement carry themselves. Though I do not want to give away too much, I have to say that the final several minutes of the film provide a cinematic crescendo to the movement of the film with great commentary about Governor Palin, the political establishment, and the Tea Party from Andrew Breitbart, Tammy Bruce, Sonnie Johnson, Mark Levin and others.
Organize4Palin’s Illinois group and Students4Palin were at the screening handing out palm cards and signing people up with Organize4Palin before and after the film. Below are a few volunteers still ready for action, just after most attendees had been seated:
One of the individuals who signed up with Organize4Palin simply identified herself as “Chloe’s Mama Grizzly”. She had come up from Marion, Illinois—more than four and a half hours from Chicago. She spoke to me about her own personal story about an overreaching government and their neglect of parent’s rights. Her experience and the example of Governor Palin had planted a seed in her to possibly run for elected office.
Governor Palin’s story of reform and fighting corruption is likely why many Illinoisans, including Democrats like the aforementioned Mr. Bryant, have respect for her. Illinois has a bipartisan corruption problem and a massive spending problem. Just as the country as a whole needs Sarah Palin as a leader, so does the state of Illinois. As I drove back to Springfield from Chicago on I-55, I passed the Exxon Mobil refinery in Joliet, and it reminded me of how the film highlighted Governor Palin’s firm stance against the oil giant in holding them accountable to their lease. Additionally, the sometimes harsh Illinois winters will benefit from the completion of the natural gas pipeline that Governor Palin championed which will bring North Slope natural gas to the Midwest. Just as the cinematic story of her achievements came to Illinois, so do her political achievements themselves as well.
Update: Ellen from Students4Palin shares her thoughts on the Chicago screening of the film here.