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FILM OF THE WEEK A sorry state of lawlessnes

MARIA DUARTE recommends a documentary on the disintegration of civil liberties during the Trump administration

The Fight (15)
Directed by Eli B Despres, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg

THE PAINSTAKING activities and inner workings of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is revealed in this gripping documentary as it wages David v Goliath battles to stop the Trump administration’s historic assault on civil liberties.

It’s one that will make you fume with rage as it follows from beginning to end four of the 173 lawsuits the ACLU has filed since Donald Trump took office. They deal with the erosion of abortion and voting rights, family separation and transgender discrimination in the military.

This is a gritty behind the scenes and intimate look at the four cases and the talented, determined and relentless lawyers assigned to each one over the course of three years.

There are heart-breaking stories of their clients, including an immigrant mother being separated from her young frightened daughter — at a time when immigrant children were being taken from their parents as they entered the US and caged under government policy — and a 17-year-old girl being forced to take a pregnancy test and, on discovering she is pregnant, being refused her right to have an abortion.

The Fight opens with the voice of Donald Trump being sworn in as president in 2017 as he promises to preserve, protect and defend the US Constitution. Yet, just seven days after his inauguration, he issued his first executive order — the Muslim travel ban which sparked the ACLU’s first lawsuit against Trump and his administration.

The film also examines the ACLU’s long history of standing up for everyone’s right to free speech, whatever their views, including those of white nationalists and neonazis right to protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 which led to the death of Heather Heyer.

With the use of animation, fly-on-the-wall footage and in-depth interviews, The Fight shows you what it takes to sue the Trump administration and defend the US Constitution.

As the president continues to ride roughshod over people’s civil rights — as he is currently doing in Portland — the documentary makes a compelling case for the continuing existence of the ACLU and its awe-inspiring lawyers.

Available on video on demand.

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