Monday, November 3, 2008

UIS political art series to screen "American Blackout"

The University of Illinois at Springfield series Political Art and the Public Sphere will conclude for the fall semester with a screening of the film "American Blackout" at 6 p.m. Monday, November 10, in Brookens Auditorium, lower level of Brookens Library on the UIS campus. Both the film and the discussion session that follows are free and open to the public.

While much has been said about alleged voting irregularities during the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, these incidents are nevertheless often dismissed as rumors or unintentional mishaps resulting from an overburdened election system.

Filmmaker Ian Inaba's "furious documentary" chronicles recurring patterns of voter disenfranchisement from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 and follows the story of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who not only took an active role in investigating these election debacles, but found herself in the center of another controversy after publicly questioning the Bush Administration about the 9/11 attacks. New York Times movie critic Jeannette Catsoulis concluded: "'American Blackout' isn't a conspiracy rant. It's a methodical compilation of questions and irregularities that deserves a wider audience."

This fall the PAPS series focused on questions of race and class in modern American politics. Series facilitator Richard Gilman-Opalsky, assistant professor of political philosophy at UIS, said, "This is a provocative film and it should lead us into an open discussion about the disenfranchisement of African American voters one week after the 2008 presidential election, where tales of long lines, voter suppression, and vote counting questions littered the news in the preceding weeks."

Gilman-Opalsky explained that the basic idea of PAPS is to consider how "art" can raise important social and political questions. "Public spheres are the places where people come together to communicate, to evaluate, and to circulate ideas and arguments," he added. "In the public sphere, people form a collective political opinion and will. Ultimately and ideally, the public sphere brings the interests and demands of the public to bear on those who hold power."

For more information about this program or the PAPS series, contact Gilman-Opalsky by phone at 206-8328 or by e-mail at