The filmmaking debut of Stuart Townsend, an Irish actor, “Battle in Seattle” makes no bones about where its sympathies lie. Except for the anarchistic fringe, it is wholeheartedly on the side of the demonstrators, a loose coalition of grass-roots activists from the environmental and labor movements joined by students and other groups who opposed globalization.
Some 40,000 demonstrators, far more than were expected, descended on Seattle in late November 1999, determined to shut down the first W.T.O. ministerial conference to be held on American soil. During five days of civil strife they prevented many of the trade ministers from attending the conference.
Stylistically and polemically “Battle in Seattle” is a descendant of Haskell Wexler’s much more complex 1969 movie, “Medium Cool.” Filmed on the streets in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, “Medium Cool” mixed scenes of the violent confrontations between demonstrators and the police with the fictional story of a television cameraman.