Donald Trump Winning Documentary Film War 5-1
So far this election cycle, anti-Hillary docs are outnumbering anti-Trump movies. A roundup of what's playing at theaters (but mostly on YouTube screens) near you.
You’d think that Hollywood — a land allegedly bursting with liberal filmmakers — would be cooking up anti-Donald Trump movies faster than In-N-Out burgers. But it’s actually the conservative Hillary Clinton haters that are winning the doc war. So far in the campaign, there have been five documentaries warning of a Clinton catastrophe if she wins the White House, compared to only one taking aim at Trump (plus one that puts a pox on both their parties). Of course, documentarians had more time to prepare for Clinton's candidacy than Trump's, which came as a surprise. Below, The Hollywood Reporter rounds up this election cycle’s crop of campaign docs.
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
The 110-minute movie from Rolling Stone magazine investigative reporter Greg Palast and partner Leni Badpenny tries to make the case that “Republican Crosscheck,” a program for purging illegal votes, is actually an effort to disenfranchise millions of minority voters. Crosscheck, according to the film, is controlled by henchmen who work for Trump and the Koch brothers, the billionaire industrialists who frequently bankroll conservative politicians. Rock legend Graham Nash recorded an altered version of the Crosby, Stills & Nash song "Chicago" for the film, which also includes commentary from Ed Asner, Willie Nelson, Rosario Dawson, Shailene Woodley, Ice-T and Richard Belzer. The movie opened Friday in New York (where it got a standing ovation) and this Friday it opens in Los Angeles. It will open nationwide in theaters-on-demand after that and it’s available on DVD and SVOD on Oct. 18.
Bankrolled by Overstock.com founder Patrick Byrne, the movie indicts Republicans, Democrats, pollsters, the media and others that the filmmakers believe are rigging the political system to favor the two major parties, to the detriment of Libertarians. The movie is from documentarian Jeff Hays, whose first film was Fahrenhype 9/11, a takedown of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. Rigged 2016 features an extensive interview with Glenn Beck and footage from media personalities like Rachel Maddow and behind-the-scenes video of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s campaign. The film opens in New York and Los Angeles in early October then goes free online thereafter.
Based on the best-selling book from Peter Schweizer, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, the movie is produced by Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News who is on sabbatical while serving as CEO of the Trump campaign. “The movie is a public service,” he tells THR. It screened in Cannes during the film festival and again at the Republican National Convention in July. It had a limited theatrical run, is available on YouTube and is being licensed to cable TV and digital outlets. Meanwhile, Clinton Cash: A Graphic Novel based on Schweizer’s book and Bannon’s film, spent a few weeks recently at No. 1 on The New York Times' graphic-novel best-sellers list.
Another Bannon-produced doc, but this one doesn’t address Clinton or Trump directly, just makes a case for its version of conservatism. Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson narrates the movie, which warns about what allegedly happens to societies when they reject God. Sexually provocative images of Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Lopez and other celebrities are none-too-subtly juxtaposed with Nazis and Islamist terrorists. It's co-produced by Dave Bossie, whose documentary eight years ago called Hillary: The Movie led to the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Like Clinton Cash, Torchbearer debuted in Cannes during the festival before screening at the GOP convention. It will be released in select theaters Oct. 7 and also be available on-demand that day via Comcast, Dish Network, iTunes, Vudu and Amazon.com.
Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
This is by far the biggest-budgeted of the films targeting Clinton. It was written and directed by Dinesh D’Souza and executive produced by Gerald Molen, the Oscar-winning producer of Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park and other blockbusters. The production cost was $5 million and another $5 million was spent on prints and advertising, and the movie, released July 15, made $13.1 million in theaters. Lionsgate will release the movie Oct. 11 on DVD.
In Deposition, which could be considered four separate films, various actors (nobody famous) basically read from the transcripts of various depositions — like Clinton aide Huma Abedin's — in a four-part series about Clinton's email server scandal. Filmmaker Phelim McAleer calls it "verbatim theater" because no fictional dialogue is added to the script. All four movies are on Facebook (and have been viewed 500,000 times), YouTube and other digital outlets. McAleer’s next project is a movie based on the life of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who is serving life in prison for murder and manslaughter.
Dick Morris and other political commentators who frequently show up on the Fox News Channel star in this film produced by Doug Sain, one of the producers of D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America (though he and D’Souza had a falling out that resulted in a lawsuit in which D’Souza prevailed). Clinton, Inc. is similar in theme to Clinton Cash. Based on the best-selling book, Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine by Daniel Halper, the movie bills itself (with a straight face) as a nonpartisan history lesson about the rise of Bill and Hillary Clinton and even daughter Chelsea. Among the more controversial claims made by the movie is that Bill Clinton was drawn to Monica Lewinsky because the former White House intern reminded him of his mother, and he was drawn to Hillary because she was like his grandmother, providing him with stability and security. The documentary opens in 20 theaters in Chicago on Friday, then nationwide on Oct. 14.