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film review

Slay the Dragon follows citizens' groups as they fight back against the practice of gerrymandering, the term for the controversial redrawing of electoral maps in a way that ensures single parties maintain control of local governments.Courtesy of Mongrel Media

  • Slay the Dragon
  • Directed by Chris Durrance and Barak Goodman
  • Classification PG; 101 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

A fascinating, frequently angry and occasionally darkly funny documentary about the history-altering effects of ... gerrymandering? Yes, the least sexy word in politics is the focus of Chris Durrance and Barak Goodman’s important (if not exactly essential) new film Slay the Dragon, which takes the bone-dry concept of cutting up a U.S. state map to represent voter districts and uses it to explore flagrant abuses within the American political system.

The sleazy electoral tactic, used by Democrats and Republicans alike over the course of U.S. history but now firmly a weapon of the American right, is one that might be slightly too obtuse for most audiences to get a grip on, but Durrance and Goodman neatly, if sometimes slowly, lay the issue out with the skill of seasoned documentarians and the ferocity of citizens who realize they’ve been duped. Yet despite the obvious righteousness of the filmmakers’ cause, a good portion of Slay the Dragon feels listless, and this close to wading into the flabbier territory of a 60 Minutes segment in need of serious editing.

There may be larger things in the world right now to think about – and even uttering the word “gerrymandering” sends a cold shiver of pure blah down my spine – but as Slay the Dragon mostly proves, the system will never right itself until the electorate collectively push for action. Today, and tomorrow.

Slay the Dragon is available April 3 on demand

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