Cannes: Phil Robertson, Accompanied by Armed Guards, Pitches Bible-Thumping Movie at Fest
The 'Duck Dynasty' patriarch hits the Croisette as another film with a rightward tilt, a new anti-Hillary Clinton movie, is being pitched.
Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson, on his first visit to Cannes, is, quite literally, a duck out of water.
He couldn’t bring his favorite firearms. And he’s missing his wife Miss Kay’s cooking. "If you want to lose weight, come to Cannes," he tells The Hollywood Reporter while sipping an espresso at the Carlton.
He is here to sell a movie titled Torchbearer. Its poster, which shows Robertson clutching a Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other, leaves little ambiguity about its message, with a tagline that reads: "When man stops believing in God, he’ll believe in anything."
“It’s a picture of spiritual warfare,” the 70-year-old reality TV star said of the image. “A gun is gonna prevent someone from robbing my household and raping my wife and there’s five of them, and if I have a weapon, I have a chance. It’s like San Bernardino, if someone just had a weapon. Or Paris. And it would have helped [if the Jews were armed in Nazi Germany].”
Torchbearer, which debuted at a special Cannes market screening on May 17, won’t likely spark bidding wars like Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. But thanks to a full-court media press and Robertson’s lightning-rod quotes, the film is sure to generate plenty of attention. The film's director, Stephen K. Bannon has a second film at the market as well, a new anti-Hillary Clinton movie, Clinton Cash, which he wrote and produced.
But it was guns, not deals, that were on Robertson’s mind as he held forth at the Carlton. "It took Bibles and guns in order to found America," he said. “It did take guns to send the Brits back to where they came from. What did it take when we went up against the Nazis? Faith in God. Hitler didn’t have any faith in God. There was no Jesus with him. No Jesus with Joseph Stalin or the Shintoists who attacked us in Pearl Harbor. And now we have the current crop. No Jesus with them either. No Jesus with the communists. And no Jesus with the Muslims. They seem alike. They all want to conquer the world.”
Robertson may be feeling a little vulnerable in France, though, since he sees the threat of ISIS looming. He is accompanied at all times by armed guards. It was unclear if either of his two guards were legally carrying firearms. When asked, one declined to answer. "I’m not authorized to discuss," he said.
As for Clinton Cash, it’s based on Peter Schweizer’s book of the same name, which alleges that donations to The Clinton Foundation and huge speaking fees to Bill Clinton from foreign governments and wealthy businessmen influenced Hillary Clinton’s policy decisions during her stint as secretary of state.
"To me, the Clintons have created a new precedent,” says Schweizer. "There are now mechanisms and avenues whereby foreign entities can help American figures become rich."
Pitching the movie, which is being handled by ARC Entertainment, as a film "made by right-wingers for Democrats," Bannon says he plans to open Clinton Cash on July 24 in Philadelphia on the eve of the Democratic Convention and then take it out to five cities on Aug. 1. But he’s also in Cannes looking for both domestic and international TV sales.
Bannon isn’t concerned that fellow conservative Dinesh D’Souza also is planning to open a Hillary Clinton doc: Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party on July 22. "If conservatives want to see our film, fine," he says, "but we made this film targeted to progressives, independents. ... I think Dinesh’s film is to rally the right-wing troops. They are two different markets."