Following protests that turned violent as police clashed with protesters in Chicago’s Grant Park during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, seven people were tried on charges of conspiracy to cross state lines in order to incite a riot. It’s a law that no one had ever been charged under at that time, and one under which no one has been charged since. The trial lasted six months and was a spectacle both inside the courtroom and out, but for those who weren’t alive at the time, or have never seen the archive photos and video from the clashes between protesters and police, they’re likely to find them to be quite similar to some of the images and videos we’ve seen of protesters and law enforcement clashing in cities across the country following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, David McAtee and other unarmed Black Americans who killed by police.
Writer/director Aaron Sorkin recounts the trial in his latest film “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” As prolific a writer as Sorkin has been throughout his career, penning noted films like “The Social Network,” “A Few Good Men,” and “The American President” as well as the acclaimed TV political drama “The West Wing,” the film is just Sorkin’s second in the director’s chair. And while he wrote the first draft of the script for the film in 2007, the film’s themes, dialogue and images remain timely in 2020.
Today on FilmWeek, KPCC’s John Horn sits down with Sorkin to talk about the 13 year journey the film took from the first draft of Sorkin’s script to the big screen, the process of condensing the trial’s massive transcript down into a two hour film and how he sees the themes of the film resonating today amid the national protests against racial inequality and police brutality.
With contributions from John Horn