Battle in Seattle is a 2007 political action-thriller film written and directed by Stuart Townsend, in his directorial debut. The story is based on the protest activity at the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999. The film premiered on May 22, 2008 at the Seattle International Film Festival.
|Battle in Seattle|
|Directed by||Stuart Townsend|
|Produced by||Mary Aloe|
|Written by||Stuart Townsend|
|Music by||Massive Attack|
|Distributed by||Redwood Palms Pictures|
The film depicts the protest in 1999, as thousands of activists arrive in Seattle, Washington in masses to protest the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999. Protesters believe the World Trade Organization contributes to widening the wealth gap between the rich and the poor, while the WTO claims to be fixing the disparity and decreasing world hunger, disease, and death.
The movie takes an in-depth look at several fictional characters during those five days in 1999 as demonstrators protested the meeting of the WTO in Seattle's streets. The movie portrays conflicts between the peaceful protesters and a minority committing property destruction whose actions were widely covered by the media. Although the protest began peacefully with a goal of stopping the WTO talks, police began teargassing the crowd after it refused to clear the streets and the situation escalated into a full-scale riot and a State of Emergency that pitted protesters against the Seattle Police Department and the Washington National Guard.
Though the film is based on actual events, the characters are fictional.
The film received mixed reviews from critics, earning a 54% positive rating from numerous reviews on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, as of January 2016. The critical consensus was that the film, though "Well intentioned and passionate, this docu-drama about the 1999 WTO protests is heavier on politics than character development". New York Magazine called the film "a triumph", while Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and described it as "not quite a documentary and not quite a drama, but interesting all the same" and compared it to past political films like Medium Cool. According to EW.com, the film "sounds like a bad TV movie: a drama based on the protests that halted the 1999 World Trade Organization summit in Seattle. Yet Stuart Townsend re-creates it all with stunning passion and skill".
Despite director Stuart Townsend's stated intention of portraying the events of protest accurately, the film was criticized by anarchist collective CrimethInc. for what they saw as its sensationalistic portrayal of events. In a pamphlet titled "And What About Tomorrow?", the collective allege that the protests were characterized in the film as an isolated spontaneous uprising in which a "small fringe group" of black bloc anarchists "stole the show", whereas CrimethInc. contend that "anarchists were involved in all different aspects of the protests" including nonviolent organization and Food Not Bombs, and credit the adoption of anarchist direct action tactics with the success of the uprising. A review published by Anarkismo praised the film as "clearly well-researched", citing the pacing and general narrative as quite accurate, but criticized the presentation of anarchist politics as one-dimensional and a caricature.