Gerrymandering (film)

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Gerrymandering (film) poster art.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byJeff Reichert
Screenplay byJeff Reichert
Produced byChris Romano
Dan O'Meara
CinematographyGary Keith Griffin
Edited bySam Pollard
Music byDavid Wingo
Distributed byGreen Film Company
Release date
  • October 15, 2010 (2010-10-15)
Running time
81 minutes
CountryUnited States

Gerrymandering is a 2010 documentary feature film written and directed by Jeff Reichert.[1] The film explores the history and the ethical, moral and racial problems raised by redistricting, i.e., the drawing of boundaries of electoral districts in the United States.[2]

Gerrymandering covers the history of the redistricting practice, how it is used and abused, how it benefits the two major political parties, Democrats and Republicans.


The original "Gerrymander" pictured in an 1812 cartoon. The word is a portmanteau of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry's name, with "salamander"

The etymology of the word gerrymandering dates back to a redrawing of Massachusetts' state Senate election districts in 1812.[3] It was named after the governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, who signed a bill redistricting the state to his own advantage. One district was described as having the shape of a salamander; hence the term gerrymandering.[4][5]

Content summary[edit]

Jeff Reichert uses the successful campaign for California’s Proposition 11, which was designed to take redistricting power away from the state legislature and give it to the Citizens Redistricting Commission, as a through-line for the film.[6] The film also uses several historical examples of gerrymandering, including New York State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries district being redrawn by the incumbent so that he could not wage an electoral challenge as he was no longer a resident.[4][5][7]

The documentary also explores the events of the 2003 Texas redistricting, when Representative Tom DeLay and Gov. Rick Perry, both Republicans, sought to redraw the map of the state’s Congressional districts to favor Republicans. As they lacked the votes to stop the legislation, 52 Democrats from the House of Representatives fled to Oklahoma to prevent a quorum. However, when they returned, Mr. DeLay ultimately got the legislation needed to redraw the districts passed.[6]


Gerrymandering draws on the perspectives from different individuals, reporters, pundits and politicians including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Howard Dean, Bob Graham, Lani Guiner, Ed Rollins, John Fund, Gerald Hebert and Susan Lerner, and an array of lesser-known personalities.[8]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 40% based on reviews from 20 critics, with an average rating of 5.5 out of 10.[9] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 49% based on reviews from 9 critics (2 positive, 7 mixed).[10]

Owen Gleiberman of The A.V. Club gave Gerrymandering a C - and Entertainment Weekly gave the documentary a B+.[6][11]


  1. ^ Plante, Bill. ""Gerrymandering" Film Exposes Truth of Redistricting". CBS Youtube Channel. CBS. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  2. ^ Chen, Amy. "'Gerrymandering' film premieres at Cable Car". The Brown Daily Herald, Movie Reviews. The Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  3. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk (14 October 2010). "Gerrymandering -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. The Hollywood Reporter (AP). Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  4. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (14 October 2010). "Gerrymandering (2009), The Dark Art of Drawing Political Lines". New York Times Moves Reviews. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  5. ^ a b Koehler, Robert (28 September 2010). "Gerrymandering (Documentary)". Variety Reviews. Variety. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  6. ^ a b c Murray, Noel (14 October 2010). "Gerrymandering". The A.V. Club Movie Rviews. The A.V. Club. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  7. ^ "How Hakeem Jeffries Became the Barack of Brooklyn". The New York Observer. 1 March 2011. Archived from the original on 5 March 2011. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  8. ^ Monder, Eric. "Film Review: Gerrymandering". Film Journal, Reviews - Specialty Releases. Film Journal. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  9. ^ "Gerrymandering reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Gerrymandering". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  11. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (12 October 2010). "Gerrymanderin review at Entertainment Weekly". Entertainment Weekly, film Reviews. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 31 August 2011.

External links[edit]