By Derek Lawrence
September 13, 2020 at 09:04 PM EDT

"The whole world is watching."

That is the message reinforced throughout the teaser trailer for writer-director Aaron Sorkin's all too timely new Netflix film The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Based on real events, the long-gestating project (Sorkin first wrote the script in 2007) tracks the aftermath of a peaceful anti-Vietnam War protest that turned violent at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. What followed was eight activists (the case against Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's Bobby Seale was eventually separated) being put on trial for conspiracy and crossing state lines to incite a riot.

"When you came to Chicago, were you hoping to draw the police into a confrontation?" prosecutor Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) asks defendant Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), who doesn't immediately answer. "I'm concerned you have to think about it."

Responds Hoffman, a self-proclaimed "Yippie": "Give me a moment, friend? I've never been on trial for my thoughts before."

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Recently speaking to EW, Sorkin explained why "the whole world is watching" was a sentiment that he grabbed onto.

"Because I couldn’t have said it any better than that crowd of protestors," he shared. "The whole world is watching. This country, we are meant to be an example and leader in democracy and human rights. And when we’re not, when that light goes off, it’s a terrible thing, not just for us but for the whole world.

Also starring Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, and Michael Keaton, The Trial of the Chicago 7 premieres Oct. 16 on Netflix.

Watch the trailer above.

Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly’s free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.

Related content: