No Umbrella: Election Day In The City is a 30-minute documentary that chronicles a look at inner city voting in Cleveland, Ohio for the 2004 Presidential elections. Located in one of the poorest neighborhoods, no one is ready for the outpouring of people to the polls. Understaffed and under-equipped, it is up to octogenarian councilwoman Fannie Lewis to take charge of the situation.
The film chronicles her arrival at 7:30 AM and shows how every attempt she makes to correct what is potentially a volatile situation is squashed. She is promised extra voting booths that take hours to arrive and, when they do, they don’t have the proper inserts to make them work. She is promised extra workers and after hours of being on the phone, she finally gets half of what she requested.
It doesn’t take long before it becomes a media circus with film makers and news crews all trying to get the story. Even the mayor of Cleveland steps in and her biggest solution to the problem is to get people out of the rain. Other than that she knows a media fiasco when she sees it and high tails it out of there pretty quick.
No Umbrella is a fine example of being in the right place at the right time. I have no idea what possessed documentarian Laura Paglin to be here, but she is showing that when there is an agenda in place, our basic civil rights can be destroyed. This was a neighborhood that was very pro-Kerry and it becomes obvious that this neighborhood was being targeted to make voting as difficult as possible for this cross-section of people.
No Umbrella doesn’t do anything but give us what they see. Some people are identified for us as the story unfolds and it’s important for us to know who they are. But other than that, it is just raw, brutal film making.
In end, No Umbrella is a testament to people who will do whatever it takes to fight for their basic rights as American citizens. Ms. Fannie Lewis shows that one person can make a difference if they want to.
No Umbrella will make you angry. If it doesn’t, then there is something seriously wrong with you.