Credit The Orchard
Spoiler alerts would be superfluous in a review of “11/8/16”: You already know the ending, and you’ve lived through the events. Nevertheless, this documentary generates ample tension as it views the last Election Day through the eyes of more than 16 people, following them during their mornings and afternoons then waiting with them for the results that night.
The diverse group includes Anthony, a former prisoner in Alabama, exonerated and voting for the first time in decades; Eric, a coal miner, and his family in West Virginia; Johnny, a union leader in Philadelphia; Calene, a mother of six in Utah who is supporting an independent presidential candidate; and others from California, Ohio and elsewhere.
We watch them at barber shops, playgrounds and dinner tables, and hear political opinions that seem prescient or misguided in retrospect. When the polls close, emotions roller coaster as the confident turn frustrated and the uncertain become enthusiastic. Many of these voters’ decisions are based on seemingly incomplete information and broad generalities. Some of their outlooks are naïve, others inspiring.
Eighteen directors are credited with the footage; Jeff Deutchman, who is listed as the curator, previously curated “11/4/08,” an examination of that Election Day. The editing here, by Jon Lefkovitz and Martha Shane, sets a speedy pace and keeps the focus on the voters rather than on Clinton and Trump, who are seldom seen.
Considering all that’s been written and said over the last year, there’s not much new to learn from “11/8/16.” But the film remains engaging for its stories, and is likely to be more instructive in the future, when passions have cooled. Judging by most people here, that won’t be soon.