Film & TV

"Split: A Deeper Divide" Movie Review

When personalities as disparate as Noam Chomsky and Fox News' Tucker Carlson agree on something, it's probably time to pay attention. Of course, it isn't as if partisan gridlock in Washington — the subject of Kelly Nyks's Split: A Deeper Divide — is a state secret. The 2011 Congress was the least effective in decades, leading to the expected finger-pointing from both ends of our political spectrum. Where Nyks's film differs from previous hand-wringing is its examination of the historical roots of these divides, and in taking a detailed look at how our democratic process has transformed from an exercise in compromise to one in which debate is stifled and there is both an inability and an unwillingness to reach consensus. Nyks's conclusions, supported by various studies and supplemented by interviews with the likes of Grover Norquist, Al Franken, and retired Senators Evan Bayh, and Chuck Hagel (Franken is the only currently serving politician interviewed), paint a grim picture. Gerrymandering of political districts, media consolidation, the phasing out of moderates, and the undue influence of big money interests (take a bow, Citizens United) have created a political climate in which the naked intolerance of opposing views is the norm. Nyks donated Split to high schools in the 50 most divided Congressional districts in the country (including District 22 in Broward), partnering with the National Council for the Social Studies to emphasize discourse while examining the current divisive state of politics. It's an inspired move, and given the lack of solutions offered by the film's interviewees, maybe in this case the children really are the future. And hopefully not in a Village of the Damned kind of way.

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Pete Vonder Haar is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group and its film partner, the Village Voice. VMG publications include LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.