Director: Mora Stephens

Right wing, left wing-- birds of different feathers seldom flock together. In this Independent Spirit Award winning film from director Mora Stephens who co-wrote the script with her editor and co-producer husband Joel Viertal, party lines are crossed when romance blooms amidst the angry divide. Matthew Mabe stars as Dave, a young unhappily married Republican Texas native complete with the old-fashioned slow talking drawl, who leaves his new home in Washington D.C. to attend New York City’s 2004 Republican National Convention as a delegate. Once in the big apple, Dave reunites with his former Dartmouth classmate Lea Jones (Woodwyn Koons) and after the two meet to catch up, it’s revealed the passionate and fiery Lea is planning some major symbolic protests with her Democratic activist friends and predictably, Lea and Dave get into a heated argument about the state of America and the post 9/11 political climate. Hours after their fight, they try it again and leave politics on the back burner only to reminisce and flirt about long forgotten feelings that cause the two to fall impulsively into bed together. Conceived as “an ironic Romeo and Juliet story… that explores the consequences of the divide in American politics,” by Mora Stephens on IMDb, Conventioneers was filmed during the actual convention leading to the arrest and detainment of numerous crew members including the director and producer as revealed in the film’s closing credits. While the combination of improvised and scripted dialogue is a bit uneven at times, the naturalistic style of the piece and the compelling portrayals by the two refreshingly real leads with a completely unaffected delivery of the dialogue keeps us riveted and despite an obvious slant to the left that may annoy right-wingers, as Variety pointed out, the real achievement of Conventioneers “lies in its honoring the sincerity and passion on both sides” of the political spectrum. Admirably, the filmmakers don’t opt for a cookie cutter conclusion, never forgetting the complexity of the characters' lives and their commitments to family and friends and the final scene is a breathlessly quick, swift kick to the heart that makes the film much darker than one had possibly expected.