In CAPTURING THE FLAG, a tight-knit group of friends travel to Cumberland County, North Carolina — 2016 “poster-child” for voter suppression — intent on proving that the big idea of American democracy can be defended by small acts of individual citizens.
In 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court invalidates the part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring certain states to submit changes in voting laws to the Justice Department for approval. Almost immediately, certain states take voter suppression measures such as enacting voter ID laws, redrawing district boundaries, and repealing same-day registration.
Three months before the 2016 election, a group of volunteers across the country mobilizes to work on voter protection — to observe elections and to assure that all those who wish to vote are legally allowed to do so. Laverne Berry, Steven Miller, and Claire Wright head to North Carolina. What they find at the polls serves as both a warning and a call to action for anyone interested in protecting the "One Man, One Vote" fundamental of our democracy.
Dealing with themes that are constantly sensationalized and manipulated by the media — Left vs. Right, North vs. South, Black vs. White — CAPTURING THE FLAG offers instead deeply personal, often surprising perspectives on the 2016 Presidential Election and its aftermath.
Directed by Anne de Mare
Produced by Anne de Mare, Laverne Berry, Elizabeth Hemmerdinger
Executive Producer: Lawrence B. Benenson, Alix Ritchie
Editors: Satoko Sugiyama, Aljernon Tunsil
Original Music: Christopher North
Cinematographers: Nelson Walker III, Anne de Mare
A Providence Productions and Election Protection Production
“The stories of these voters remind us that the heart of this fight is our shared human stake in our democracy — and CAPTURING THE FLAG serves both as a warning and a call to action to activists across the country who are ready to fiercely defend it.” Natasha Piñon, Ms. Magazine
“An unbiased story that every American should see...demonstrates that democracy at its very core is continually being challenged.” Pamela Powell, Reel Honest Reviews
“I can read about voter suppression and hear about voter suppression, but seeing it unfold on screen is staggering in an entirely different way.”
Full Frame Artistic Director Sadie Tillery quoted in PBS’s DocSoup
“A microcosm of the passions, absurdities and contradictions of the U.S. election system.”
Marvin Brown, Quik Flix Hit
“Director Anne de Mare adeptly focuses a magnifying glass on the crucible of Cumberland County, North Carolina. [A] deeply personal, important and timely film.”
L.C. Cragg, Red Carpet Crash
"Tells the modern story of voter suppression practices in vivid detail. It helps make sense of the continuing fight, which dates back to the founding of our country, to extend and protect the right to vote."
Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, Professor of Law, Adjunct Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies and Political Science, Indiana University - Bloomington
"A film every young adult needs to see. At a time when people across the nation are wondering how they can make a difference, this film says, yes, you can — here are some steps you can take."
Carly Mirabile and Melanie Hogue, Duke Arts, Duke University
"Captures many key elements of the dynamics of voter suppression and its implementation in North Carolina. And it reveals the subversive, anti-American qualities of voter suppression in an effective, personalized way."
Walter Salinger, former Director, The League of Women Voters of North Carolina
"Enlightening and inspiring...Palpable, and immensely relatable...The film makes it devastatingly clear that if these volunteers had not been present, many more people would have been unable to exercise their constitutional right to vote...Captures both how great the need is for voter protection work and how much of a difference a single person can make in just one day."
Elizabeth Levin, The Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts
"Immediately following the Supreme Court's devastating decision in Shelby County v. Holder, North Carolina passed a monstrous voter suppression law and became ground zero for the fight to protect voting rights. As the ACLU and other organizations challenged the law in court, volunteers on the ground worked tirelessly to ensure that every eligible voter could register, vote, and have their vote counted...This film provides an important perspective on how voter suppression works in practice, documenting the barriers and challenges voters face to exercise their most fundamental rights, and the volunteer efforts to protect them."
Julie Ebenstein, Senior Staff Attorney, Voting Rights Project, ACLU
"Shows personal stories on how voter suppression can affect anyone of any age, race/ethnicity, or gender. There is no way you can't see a family member or friend in the experiences of the voters highlighted...The future of our democracy is dependent on us fighting all forms of voter suppression and making sure that every person gets to cast a ballot."
Alyssa Canty, Campus Outreach Coordinator, Common Cause North Carolina
"Tells the story of four friends awakening to the contemporary assault on democracy, and discovering their own capacity to do something about it. The film is a good primer in citizen action that can be used to start a conversation among concerned citizens, from students to seniors, about what can be done and how we all can get involved in election protection work."
Dr. Lorraine Minnite, Associate Professor and Chair, Public Policy and Administration, Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey, Author, Keeping Down the Black Vote: Race and the Demobilization of American Voters
"In addition to covering numerous ways voting has been restricted, the film provides the invaluable service of demonstrating how ongoing confusion about just what the voting law even is in certain states is contributing to the problem of voter suppression. The film offers an intimate portrayal of concerned citizens who, as volunteers and activists, are fighting in the face of the altered legal landscape to secure the most fundamental right of democracy — the right to vote."
Jeffrey Green, Professor and Director, Center for the Study of Democracy, University of Pennsylvania
"Reveals the unglamorous role of activists who volunteer their time to do the nitty-gritty work of assisting regular people struggling through the voting process. Students and civic groups will be motivated by the film's central characters to step up their involvement in future elections."
Barry Burden, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Elections Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison