The opening night film for Sundance 2007 is a curiosity - a mix of high-tech motion capture animation and nearly 40-year-old archival footage, real-life events and surreally-depicted flights of fancy. Chicago 10's an uneasy, oil-and-water mix -- and one leads to a movie that's woundingly set against itself. Director Brett Morgen's last Sundance film (which he actually co-directed with Nanette Burstein) was The Kid Stays in the Picture, from 2002; much like that film, Chicago 10 tries to be a fantasia based on reality -- or a depiction of the real through the fantastic.
In 1968, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago was beset by protests in the streets. The Vietnam War had the nation divided, and several youth leaders -- including Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman and other activists/dirty goddamn hippies (depending on which side of the argument you were on) -- organized public protests against the war, against capitalism, against what they saw as America's failings. 8 of the leaders -- some of whom, like Hoffman and Rubin, were central organizers, and some of whom, like Black Panther Bobby Seale, were not -- were charged with inciting to riot and brought to trial in Chicago. Morgen's film incorporates you-are-there newsreel and found footage; more strikingly -- and, bluntly, less successfully -- it also uses motion-capture based computer generated animation to recreate scenes from the trial, with various name actors recreating court testimony.