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Hot Docs 2014 Review: Divide in Concord

It’s one determined woman facing off against conventional sensibility, misunderstood freedoms, and big business in Divide in Concord, an invigorating documentary about political activism and environmentalism.

Since 2010, octogenarian Jean Hill has been campaigning for her town of Concord, New Hampshire, to pass a ban on bottle water, much to the disregard of politicians, business owners, and fiery republicans. She says things like, “I want to be all used up before I go on… to another world where there is no bottled water.”

She also occasionally curses like June Squibb from Nebraska.

Her crusade continues. While we chat with townsfolk who are simply stubborn, including a conservative woman blindly reciting talking points, the doc remains nuanced and hopeful. It catalogues both democratic inaction and democracy in action, as some hearts and minds weigh in thoughtfully while others are simply swayed.

Concord is in the title for a reason – it’s a key character. The quaint town is the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and a breeding ground for political engagement. Residents on both sides of the issues are happy to seek inspiration, rightly or wrongly, from the founding fathers.

It maintains this noble spirit throughout, cleverly and effectively softening an issue that is of staggering global importance. A science teacher explains in Bill Nye-like fashion the horrific effects of plastic consumption, detailing the overwhelming amount of trash in the Pacific Ocean.

A perfect blend of harsh realism and inspiring idealism, Divide in Concord has mass appeal and a stirring story.

[star v=4]

Anthony Marcusa

A pop-culture consumer, Anthony seeks out what is important in entertainment and mocks what is not. Inspired by history, Anthony writes with the hope that someone, somewhere, might be affected.