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PRESS RELEASE — Thursday, June 7, 2007
For Information Call Karen Svea Johnson at 208-373-7369
or Anne Peterson at 208-373-7368

STATE LEGISLATURE Documentary Film Focuses on the 2004 Idaho Session

— Airs Wednesday, June 13, at 8:00 p.m. MT/PT, on IdahoPTV

To veteran members of the Idaho Press Club who previewed the latest Frederick Wiseman documentary film on Tuesday night, it might have felt like “déjà vu all over again,” as one lawmaker puts it in STATE LEGISLATURE. For the latest episode in his exploration of contemporary American life, Wiseman turns his camera on the 2004 Idaho Legislature.

Although the renowned filmmaker’s cameras open a few doors that local journalists cannot, much of the production showcases Idaho legislators’ daily actions and responsibilities. In her blog for the Spokesman Review, Idaho Press Club president Betsy Z. Russell notes that the film “covers a range of subjects that range from the mundane to the inspiring, and from the heart-wrenching to the hilarious: How laws are made in Idaho.”

In Wiseman’s trademark cinema verite style, nothing is staged, and no narrator leads viewers through the film. Wiseman captures the lawmakers as they debate and discuss issues ranging from violence in schools, mad cow disease and video voyeurism to illegal immigration, secondhand smoke and the deregulation of telephone rates.

PBS viewers across the country have the opportunity to see the approximately 3 ½-hour film on Wednesday, June 13. In Idaho, it airs on IdahoPTV at 8:00 p.m. MT/PT.

Wiseman chose Idaho as his subject because it is a state governed by true citizen legislators — not career politicians. These lawmakers are farmers and ranchers, businessmen and women, lawyers, doctors, sales people, loggers and teachers elected to two-year terms.

“Unlike a textbook description in a political science course of how a bill becomes a law, a film of a legislature can convey in a unique way the actuality of the legislative process, that is, how decisions are made and power is exercised in a democratic society, and the constraints and limitations on the application of that power,” said Wiseman.

Critics from around the world praise the film for the insight it offers to American political and legislative institutions. In Le Monde, Thomas Sotinel called STATE LEGISLATURE “[an] ode to representative democracy.” Variety’s review stated, “What emerges is the thoroughness with which the system treats even the most contentious of issues and eccentric of constituents.” After a showing at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival, German film critic Ekkehard Knörer wrote, “One stands to gain nothing less than mind-boggling insights into the machinery of American democracy.”

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