Main content

30 Frames a Second: The WTO in Seattle

30 Frames a Second: The WTO in Seattle

30 Frames A Second: The WTO in Seattle, is a compelling first-person account of the events that unfolded during the week the World Trade Organization came to Seattle in November of 1999. It's told from the perspective of 15-year veteran network news cameraman Rustin Thompson, who covered the WTO as an independent journalist. It is the story of how Thompson's objective point-of-view evolved into a subjective account of what became an unscheduled, unruly outbreak of democracy.

Thompson, who had press credentials for the event, takes the viewer into the fray of tear gas, pepper spray, and police abuse; behind the lines and inside the convention center and press rooms; and along the marches, sit-ins, and demonstrations. His dynamic, up-close footage captures the passion, the confusion, the anger, and the courage of everyone involved, from protesters to police to delegates to bureaucrats.

With Thompson narrating, the film asks viewers to emotionally engage their own conflicting feelings about the demonstrations and behind-closed-doors meetings. "I was intrigued by taking a singular, personal approach to the events," says Thompson, as he recounts how the protests affected him as a journalist and a common citizen. The result is an impressionistic journal of a decisive week that exploded into a massive expression of freedom: of speech, of assembly, and the press.

"This film is essential to anyone trying to come to grips with the events in Seattle and the continuing debate over globalization. Highly recommended." Library Journal

"(A) highly watchable personal video documentary...the sense of what it was like to be there is pungent throughout." Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader (from capsule review)

"Standout documentary, Rus Thompson's 30 Frames a Second is a user-friendly guide to the Seattle anti-WTO demonstrations." Amy Taubin, Village Voice

"Both polished and provocative, Thompson...furnish(es) remarkable testimony by a reflective witness operating outside the predictable agendas and usual players seen in the newscasts." Chicago Sun-Times

"If I had to review...30 only three words, I'd say it's honest, energizing agitprop...(W)hat marks (it) as agitprop is Thompson's own political conversion, seemingly brought about by his participation in the events." Rating: A must-see. Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader (from full review)

"A fine work of memory, delicately crafted and suitably of the more aesthetically resonant diaries of the protests you're likely to see." The Stranger (Seattle)

"(Thompson's) first person postcard is one of the most jarring things I've seen in ages...What country, what year is this, you want to ask as your jaw drops." New City (Chicago)

" a raw, on-the-spot record of the WTO demonstrations." Educational Media Reviews Online

"[A] vivid, first person account...will surely satnd as the definitive record of that week's turbulent events." Jeff Shannon, Seattle Times


Main credits

Thompson, Rustin (film producer)
Thompson, Rustin (film director)
Thompson, Rustin (film editor)
Thompson, Rustin (cinematographer)
Hedreen, Ann (film producer)

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Business Practices
Film Studies
Global Issues
Human Rights
International Studies
International Trade
Mass Communications
Media Literacy
Media Studies
Social Justice
Social Psychology
Western US


WTO, Seattle, World Trade Organization, Rustin Thompson; "30 Frames a Second: The WTO in Seattle"; Bullfrog Films

Related Films

The Seattle Syndrome

Were the WTO protesters right in their effort to protect workers and the…