Sundance: Anthony Weiner Doc Directors Deny Cutting Footage Harmful to Hillary Clinton
"It’s ironic because so much of what we’re trying to do with this film is to show how much the political conversation is driven by these sensational headlines and one-liners," said Josh Kriegman of recent press.
Heading into the Sundance Film Festival world premiere of Weiner on Sunday afternoon, the big question looming was would there be implications for Hillary Clinton’s White House bid.
The documentary, which chronicles former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s own bid for New York City Mayor and the campaign’s implosion after a high-profile sexting scandal, contains no explicit footage of Weiner’s wife and Clinton advisor Huma Abedin being pressured to cut ties with Weiner or else the scandal might hurt the Secretary of State’s political aspirations. There is, however, an implication that Abedin opted not to join Weiner on election day on the advice of someone named Philippe (Philippe Reines served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Clinton and is the likely person referenced).
Multiple parties who viewed early cuts of the film told The Hollywood Reporter that Clinton’s team is seen trying to pressure Abedin. It is unclear if what they saw is the same footage that appears in the final cut of Weiner, where Philippe is referenced twice in regards to Abedin keeping a low profile as Weiner's political career detonates.
“There was no footage that was taken out,” co-director Elyse Steinberg told the Marc Theatre audience after the film wrapped.
Co-director Josh Kriegman, who worked for Weiner before becoming a filmmaker, took issue with articles in recent days that suggested the former First Lady’s White House bid might be hurt by the film, saying that accusations have been made “by people who haven’t even seen the movie.”
He added: “It’s ironic because so much of what we’re trying to do with this film is to show how much the political conversation is driven by these sensational headlines and one-liners. And, of course, reality is much more complicated than that. It’s certainly emblematic of what we’re hoping the film shows about the political conversation.”
Weiner, which was distilled from 400 hours of footage, played well to the packed audience, with many cheering on its subject when he sparred with a heckler at a New York diner and out-shouted a relentless MSNBC host during an interview.
Ultimately, the directing duo were hoping to capture the human side of a couple engulfed in scandal. And at that they succeeded, with Weiner and Abedin seen in intimate moments with their toddler son and even petting their two cats, or Weiner wolfing down a sandwich in a town car while trying to extinguish the latest campaign inferno.
“That was the story we were documenting,” said Kriegman. “This remarkable comeback story. But obviously things took a turn, and we kept rolling.”
The film will be released theatrically by Sundance Selects on May 20 and make its worldwide TV debut in October on Showtime across all platforms.