Documentary Film Examines the "War" Between the Red and Blue States

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A new documentary project examines the belief systems of ordinary Americans throughout the Midwestern "fly-over" states. The project has garnered the interest of Natatlie Merchant, Ben Folds, Cowboy Junkies and various other musical contributors.

Arguably like never before, America is a country divided. President Bush was re-elected by a scant majority in November's hotly contested presidential election, and many of those who feel misrepresented are disenchanted with politics. Those in the winners circle aren't all on the same page either, though.

"There are so many hot-button issues on people's minds right now," said Amelia Dellos, an Oak Park resident who, with her husband Eric Anderson, is seeking to finance their film, "Red, White & Blue: A Tale of Two Americas," which will feature musical contributions from bands including Cowboy Junkies, Ben Folds, Natalie Merchant and Big Head Todd & the Monsters.

"The film is about trying to understand why people feel the way they feel, "Dellos continues. "Eric and I are both fans of Michael Moore's films, but he's not who we're trying to emulate. We aren't making a movie to support our beliefs. We're just trying to understand what politics means to people and why."

On board with the project is Pete Biagi as director of photography, best known as the Director of Photography for "Stolen Summer," the feature film that was the result of the first season of HBO's "Project Greenlight." The fourth crew member is John Yaworsky, a Chicago-area producer and founder of teenvoice2004.com, who is acting as the sound technician for the team.

Dellos and Anderson posted a survey on their Web site, http://www.redwhiteandbluemovie.com, asking questions such as "Why are you a Republican or Democrat?" "What does it mean to you?" "How do you feel about abortion?" and "What are your feelings about the war in Iraq?"

"We got over 500 responses, and people found out about the movie through word of mouth," Dellos said. "We went into chat rooms to post info, and spread the word to people we knew, who in turn talked about it with others."

Once financing for the $100,000 shoot is secured, a hurdle they hope to overcome in the next few weeks so they can begin filming, the duo will hit the road to interview folks in blue (Illinois), white (Iowa) and red states (Kansas). They'll hit small, medium and large towns and cities, asking people the questions on their site while capturing their emotionally charged responses.

"I think there is a lot of leftover energy after the election," Anderson said. "The idea is to do something good with it."

Filming for the project began on April 14th with Dr. Lee Barker, the president of Meadville Lombard, a seminary for the Unitarian Church located on the campus of the University of Chicago. Dr. Barker is a prominent activist, was a registered conscienctious objecter during the Viet Nam war, and has performed gay marriages since 1972.

"As the interview began, everyone in the room could feel something magical happening. We all saw a great film begin to materialize in that one moment," Anderson said. "The bottom line with 'Red, White & Blue' is we hope it will get people to stop and think. We want to know why they believe what they believe and understand why we all come to different conclusions. Our first interview was a perfect step in that direction."

To find out more about the project or to contribute financially to filming, contact Anderson and Dellos at filmmakers@redwhiteandbluemovie.com.

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Eric Anderson