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Film Review: Election Night

Election Night is a short film written and directed by Peter Zurzan starring Sam Jackson as veteran campaign organizer Barbara. Her counterpart, rookie organizer Mahoney is played by Brennan Pickman-Thoon.

Election Night demonstrates the tedium of campaigning, and the importance of cautious optimism. The two characters influence one another - the rookie, Mahoney reminds his senior, Barbara, implicitly to hope, while Barbara encourages Mahoney to focus. Barbara takes the opportunity to offer Mahoney some words of wisdom: don’t offer volunteers false hope. She understands what losing is like and begins to ingratiate Mahoney on what it takes to withstand the campaign process.

Having faith in a campaign is one thing, but Barbara has done the legwork. She has made the sacrifices -- living with her parents, not dating. Even with these costs, she wouldn’t trade her job.

Without completely mirroring the 2018 midterms, this short touches on the hardship of campaigning and dealing with uncertainty. Even when an election is won, it can later be robbed. Government can change with a new leader in office after a period of prosperity (in the short’s case, Obama is the example). After experiencing loss, continuing to campaign for the future takes continued determination.

Sam and Brennan light up the screen with their earnest performances. The short provides a great reminder that the fanfare of production is nice, but character development and a compelling premise go a long way. The short has a beautiful simplicity to it. It’s shot in one room with two characters. The story setup sticks to its theme of hope making the election result at the end satisfying.

Even though the election night takes place in 2018, I am sure for many watching it will make them think back to the stressful conditions of the recent 2020 US presidential election, and hopefully make them appreciate the Stacy Abrams-esque campaigners who never stop fighting for the people.

Director Peter Zerzan


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