Going on a quest for the “real” Sarah Palin sounds like setting out in pursuit of the Holy Grail—it’s something that’s guaranteed to be hard to find, if it exists at all. But Brit documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield tried to do just that in his drolly titled Sarah Palin: You Betcha!, which Content Film will release after its world premiere in September at the Toronto Film Festival. Content will have international rights for the film, while Cassian Elwes will release the film in the US.
Doc vet Broomfield, who directed the documentary Kurt and Courtney as well as the quasi-improvisational Battle for Haditha, set out across Alaska in search of Palin’s family, high school buddies and Republican colleagues. You Betcha! comes on the heels of another Palin doc, The Undefeated, which opened in mid-July. There’s no need to look further than the two films’ names to deduce their distinct takes on the Mama Grizzly. Broomfield’s pic is critical of the former Alaskan governor, including interviews with former Palin colleagues that describe her proclivity for texting on her Blackberry during staff meetings. (Trailer is below.)
The Undefeated, on the other hand, is a sort of political love letter. Although Palin was not technically involved in the pic’s production, she gave the film her blessing, and appeared in person at its premiere in Pella, Iowa–an essential state for any possible Republican presidential candidate.
The documentary was directed by Stephen Bannon, who also brought us the 2010 Tea Party film Generation Zero, a Citizens United production pegging the blame for the financial crisis on the generation that grew up in the 1960s.
The Undefeated was universally panned by critics, achieving a remarkable 0% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. New York Magainze’s David Edelstein went so far as to call it “a straight hagiography.”
The film prompted a mini-controversy amongst box office pundits after the website Conservatives4Palin ran an article titled “The Undefeated Has the Second Highest Gross Per Theater Average for Movies This Weekend.” Not only was that headline unnecessarily loquacious, it turns out it was also untrue. The Undefeated was in fact number four for that weekend. Still, it’s worth noting that the film performed strongly in its initial release in 10 (predominantly conservative) cities and towns across the country.