Filmmakers turning into political operatives
October 20, 2004
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- The vote is in: Political matters have become viable candidates on the big screen, with filmmakers and audiences roused by curiosity, patriotism or indignation to explore critical issues of the times.
Usually relegated to Sunday morning TV roundtables, current events and political content have become as commonplace in theaters as presidential wannabes in Iowa early in an election year.
Michael Moore's President Bush-bashing "Fahrenheit 9/11" has led the way, but dozens of other documentaries and a handful of dramatized films have arisen in the aftershocks of the 2000 election mess, the September 11 attacks and the U.S. war on terrorism.
Moviegoers have made mini-hits out of such theatrical releases as "Control Room," an examination of Arab TV network Al-Jazeera's coverage of the Iraq war, and "The Fog of War," Errol Morris' Academy Award-winning compendium of Robert S. McNamara's insights on modern history and combat.
Political documentaries such as "Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election," "Uncovered: The War on Iraq" and "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" have sold briskly on DVD.
"The voting public is energized," Moore said last summer, after "Fahrenheit 9/11" became the first documentary to top $100 million (euro80 million) at the domestic box office. "They are anxious to discuss politics, and I think since September 11, the American people have wanted to find out more of what's going on in the world."
Filmmakers and distributors have rushed in to satisfy that inquisitiveness.
Other issue-driven films newly released on film or DVD include "Horns and Halos," chronicling the saga of J.H. Hatfield's George W. Bush biography "Fortunate Son"; "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry" and "Brothers in Arms," which explore the Democratic presidential candidate's Vietnam record and his subsequent stand against the war; "The Yes Men," following two anti-corporate pranksters posing as World Trade Organization representatives; "The Hunting of the President," examining efforts by Bill Clinton's enemies to discredit his administration; and "The War Room," the documentary hit about Clinton's 1992 campaign.
"I think this is the high-water mark for political filmmaking, but I don't think it's the end of the rising tide," said filmmaker Steve Rosenbaum, who is making "Inside the Bubble," a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Kerry campaign.
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