Photography: IMDB Stills Property of One Vote Productions LLC
Above: A voter in Omaha, Nebraska, encourages voting in the 2016 election.
With the gubernatorial elections coming up on November 6, polling sites across Connecticut are expected to fill with voters young and old. That’s the hope, anyway. With their documentary film One Vote, which has toured major U.S. film festivals since its debut last March, director Christine Woodhouse and producer Emily Wachtel focus on the day after the debates and campaigns wrap up. The film, though political, presents a nonpartisan view of the electoral process in six different locations across the country as seen through the lens of five stories, including a former felon with reinstated voting rights, an Alaskan family who trudges through the snow to get to the polls and a gospel-singing physician in South Carolina. Read on to learn how Woodhouse, a Weston resident, and Wachtel, who hails from Westport, conceived the project and how they got Warren Buffett on board.
Q&A with the FILMMAKERS
HOW HAS MAKING THE FILM NONPARTISAN STRENGTHENED IT?
“At our core, we are not that partisan—although media is making us more that way. The only way to really understand this aspect of voting is to see it and to judge it for yourself. That is why the film is centered on the Election Day experiences of real voters, rather than political pundits talking about voting in general terms.”
HOW DID YOU SETTLE ON THESE FIVE VOTERS—AND IN WHAT WAYS DO THEY DEFINE TODAY’S VOTING EXPERIENCE?
“We wanted to show the experiences of diverse voters, from different parts of the country, because that is Election Day in the U.S.—voting in Alaska is very different from voting in Chicago or in South Carolina. But, interestingly, the characters we selected to film on Election Day also shared things in common. They are all more passionate about participating and helping other people [access the polls] than about a particular candidate or issue.”
WHAT ROLE DO YOU HOPE ONE VOTE WILL SERVE ON THIS YEAR’S ELECTION DAY?
“Clearly, the U.S. feels more divided today than it did two years ago, when we set out to make a film that would provide a counterpoint to the constant media coverage about deepening political division. For a period of time, we were worried that One Vote would feel naïve in the context of everything that has happened since Election Day 2016. For example, there is no reference to election interference or Russian hackers in any of the stories. But audience reaction to the film has shown us that people really feel a need to be reminded of the positive, the human aspects, of our democracy—the ways in which we are more alike than different. People may walk into the film not believing that they can watch something about Election Day that isn’t partisan, but after they see it, they can’t imagine the stories being told any other way.”
“One Vote is not about one person changing the results of an election by voting, because from the point of view of the film, elections are not about the result. There is always another election around the corner. It’s about the fact that every vote is cast one at a time by someone with a unique perspective. The film is really about having faith—faith not only in ourselves and our own value when we choose to participate, but also in our fellow citizens. That’s the feeling we hope people walk away from the film with.”
HOW DID YOU GET WARREN BUFFET ON BOARD THIS PROJECT?
“After Warren Buffett announced that he would be spending Election Day aboard a trolley, helping voters in Omaha needing a ride to the polls, he received more than 100 media requests to accompany him. His office granted one. That was our film. Omaha is an important congressional district on Election Day because it is a swing district in one of only two states that awards its electoral college votes by district. So, it is a compelling example of how much voting varies by state. That’s the process in the United States and something we wanted to show in the film.”
Note: Answers edited for fit.