Chicago 10 (film)

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Chicago 10
Chicago ten.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed byBrett Morgen
Written byBrett Morgen
Produced byGraydon Carter
Brett Morgen
StarringHank Azaria
Dylan Baker
Nick Nolte
Mark Ruffalo
Roy Scheider
Liev Schreiber
James Urbaniak
Jeffrey Wright
Edited byStuart Levy
Music byJeff Danna
Distributed byRoadside Attractions
Release date
  • January 18, 2007 (2007-01-18) (Sundance)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$177,490[1]

Chicago 10: Speak Your Peace is a 2007 American animated documentary written and directed by Brett Morgen that tells the story of the Chicago Eight. The Chicago Eight were charged by the United States federal government with conspiracy, crossing state lines with intent to incite a riot, and other charges related to anti-Vietnam War and countercultural protests in Chicago, Illinois during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

The film features the voices of Hank Azaria, Dylan Baker, Nick Nolte, Mark Ruffalo, Roy Scheider, Liev Schreiber, James Urbaniak, and Jeffrey Wright in an animated reenactment of the trial based on transcripts and rediscovered audio recordings. It also contains archival footage of Abbie Hoffman, David Dellinger, William Kunstler, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, Tom Hayden, and Leonard Weinglass, and of the protest and riot itself.


At the 1968 Democratic Convention, protesters, denied permits for public demonstrations, repeatedly clashed with the Chicago Police Department,[2] and these clashes were witnessed live by a television audience of over 50 million. The events had a polarizing effect on the country.

Needing to find a scapegoat for the disturbances, the Nixon Administration charged eight of the most vocal activists with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges and brought them to trial a year later. The defendants represented a broad cross-section of the anti-war movement, from counter-culture icons Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, to renowned pacifist David Dellinger.

Seven of the defendants were represented by Leonard Weinglass and famed liberal attorney William Kunstler, who went head-to-head with prosecution attorney Tom Foran. The eighth defendant, Bobby Seale, co-chair of the Black Panther Party, insisted on defending himself and was bound, gagged and handcuffed to his chair by Judge Julius Hoffman.[3][4]



The title of the film is drawn from a quote by Jerry Rubin, who said, "Anyone who calls us the Chicago Seven is a racist. Because you're discrediting Bobby Seale. You can call us the Chicago Eight, but really we're the Chicago Ten, because our two lawyers went down with us."[5][6] The animated courtroom sequences were also informed by Rubin's description of the trial as a "cartoon show."[3]

Morgen tells IONCINEMA, "We took events that happened forty years ago and ultimately wrote a film about today. I wasn’t born then so I couldn’t do it any other way," and "That’s why when Allen Ginsberg goes to the witness stand and says: ‘Politics is theater and magic, is the manipulation by the media of imagery that hypnotizes the country into believing in a war that didn’t exist’, he’s not speaking about the Vietnam war, he's referring to Colin Powell testimony in front of United Nations. That was my interpretation of it."[7] Traditional music was not used in the film because according to Morgen, it "became a cliché, something anachronistic."[7] Morgen explained to Chicago Magazine that the inclusion of music by artists such as Black Sabbath, Rage Against the Machine, the Beastie Boys, and Eminem is because "I don’t think of this as a movie about 1968 at all. I think this is a movie about 2007 and 2008."[5]


The film premiered January 18, 2007 at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. It later premiered at Silverdocs, the AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. The film opened in limited release in the United States on February 29, 2008. It was aired nationally on the PBS program Independent Lens[8] on October 29, 2008.[9][10]

Critical reception[edit]

Chicago 10 received generally favorable reviews from critics. As of June 2020, the film holds an 81% approval rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 84 reviews with an average rating of 6.74/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Brett Morgan's half-animated, half-documentary film is an arresting, sometimes visionary portrait of the historic and chaotic trial."[11] Metacritic reported the film had a weighted average score of 69 out of 100, based on 24 reviews.[12]

Jim Emerson of gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, and writes, "Through the kaleidoscopic prism of Brett Morgen's uproarious "Chicago 10," a zippy mixture of documentary footage and motion-capture animation, we see how the confrontations between police and protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention played out as political theater," and how "[d]uring the trial, the defendants turned Judge Julius Hoffman's kangaroo courtroom into the stage for a wild farce, complete with kisses, costumes and paper airplanes." Emerson observes, "Through the prism of this movie we can see how [Abbie] Hoffman's satirical brand of "political theater," a concept he did not invent but adeptly exploited, may have seemed both cynical and naive at the time, but was keenly perceptive, even prescient."[13]


The film was the winner of the Silver Hugo for Best Documentary at the Chicago International Film Festival in 2007.[14] The film was nominated in 2009 for Best Documentary Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America[15] and nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy Award in 2009 for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Graphic Design and Art Direction.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chicago 10 at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Taylor, David; Morris, Sam (August 19, 2018). "The whole world is watching: How the 1968 Chicago 'police riot' shocked America and divided the nation". The Guardian.
  3. ^ a b "Chicago 10: Press Materials". Participant Media. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  4. ^ "Bobby Seale, Bound and Gagged | Political Activists on Trial | Explore | Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration | Exhibitions at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress". Library of Congress. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Meyer, Graham (January 24, 2008). "Long Time Coming". Chicago Magazine. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
  6. ^ "The Chicago 10". Independent Lens. PBS. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Celis, Barbara (February 28, 2008). "Interview: Brett Morgen (Chicago 10)". IONCINEMA.
  8. ^ "Chicago 10". Independent Lens. PBS. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  9. ^ "Brett Morgen's Chicago 10 to Premiere on Emmy Award-Winning PBS Series Independent Lens as Season Opener". ITVS. Independent Television Service. August 22, 2008.
  10. ^ "Chicago 10". ITVS. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  11. ^ "Chicago 10 – Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  12. ^ "Chicago 10 (2008): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved April 11, 2010.
  13. ^ Emerson, Jim (February 28, 2008). "Activism as political cartoon". Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  14. ^ Chicago 10 Awards. IMDb.
  15. ^ Finke, Nikki (January 7, 2009). "2009 WGA Awards Screen Nominees". Deadline. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  16. ^ "Nominees for the 30th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards Announced by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences". July 14, 2009. Archived from the original on November 6, 2020.

External links[edit]