Film: 9510

Politics | 1970 | Sound | Colour


Politics of protest in an American high school to illustrate the nature of a "political animal". Great 1970's haircuts. General views of Washington DC

Capitol Hill and other buildings in Washington. A man sits at a desk in a court room or council chamber, the camera pans back to reveal secretaries or stenographers at desks and other people in the chamber. A middle aged man wearing a suit shakes hands with a group of young women. Various shots of people in the council chamber. President Nixon standing on a podium, speaking. A group of cheerleaders march along a street during a campaign. A politician talks to members of the public at the roadside. People holding placards. A man wearing a uniform in a marching band twirls his baton. A hand moves switches on a sort of voting or counting machine. A man puts a cross on a voting slip.

Children or teenagers eat from trays in a secondary or high school canteen. The clock reads 12.15, the second hand moves around. A blonde girl and a black girl nod to one another. The second hand reaches the twelve and the blonde girl starts to drum her knife on the table in rhythm. Other children joins in. A teacher or headteacher marches into the room and puts his arms up for quiet. The pupils walk along the school corridor. They walk outside. There are various staged conversations about the unfairness of school rules. Some pupils walk into a clasroom. Pupils walk into the cafeteria and pick up cutlery. They ask a teacher, a man with an Afro hair style and a pink tie, if they can go out at lunchtime. The blonde girl sits in the headteacher's office while he explains why the pupils are not allowed to have vending machines and that if they had a longer lunch break they would finish school at 3.30 instead of 3pm. The girl listens attentively then leaves.

Various U symbols: drawing pins on a board; a design on the back of a T shirt; on the soles of someone's trainers; a design on a book mark; a mark on a white screen as a teacher pulls it down. A middle aged female teacher enters a classroom and asks the teacher with the Afro what it’s all about. He taps out the letter U in morse code with his cane or pointer and points to it on the blackboard. He talks to his class about the fifth Amendment and its relation to school rules. In another classroom a boy taps on his desk until the teacher asks him to stop.

A pupil eats nuts at a table covered in books with a man, presumably his father. The boy addresses the school council. Pupils sign a petition in the library for an open lunch policy. A girl goes into a shop and asks the shopkeeper to sign the petition. He refuses. He explains to a customer how it was in his shop before the closed lunch policy, and how he does not want to return to those days.

Two girls in school ask the school council president to ask his mother to vote in favour of the open lunch policy. He speaks to his mother at home, she has a beehive hairdo. A girl joins other pupils in the school library and shows them a letter. The blonde girl speaks on a payphone and tells Greg that she cannot see him that evening because she wants to attend the school board meeting.

Adults sit at a table in the front of a hall. Pupils sit in rows of chairs. The school council president presents the petition. Flasback shots of pupils banging knives in the canteen, listening in class, the symbol U. In the hall the pupils watch and wait as the school board discuss the issue. Some shake their heads, others nod. The casting vote goes to the mother with the beehive. We do not hear her answer.


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