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by Eugene Hernandez
September 8, 2006 2:07 AM
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TORONTO '06 DAILY DISPATCH: Politics As Usual? IFC Gets Election Doc, Fest Buzzes About D.O.A.P., an

A scene from James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo's doc "...So Goes The Nation". Image provided by the Toronto International Film Festival

Politics may end up being one of the hot topics at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. While muckraker Michael Moore will be talking in the spotlight Friday night at the festival, with clips from two new films, IFC Entertainment has announced a deal for James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo's doc "...So Goes The Nation," which will have its world premiere this week in Toronto. The new film, screening in the fest's Real to Reel doc section, examines the U.S. electoral process by looking at both sides during the 2004 Presidential election, including the perspectives of politicians, activists and voters.

The state of Ohio, key battleground in the election, is a key site for the film, which includes a look at, in the words of an announcement, "how the voting public is manipulated by both parties' leaders and their political marketing machines." As TIFF programmer Thom Powers explains in a fest description of the movie, "The heart of the film lies with the average citizens who offer a stirring illustration of what it means to participate in a democracy."

"This is an engaging documentary that, in addition to addressing the U.S. political machine as a whole, opens the viewers' eyes to the calculated strategies of top political insiders and the voting process in a way that hasn't been done before," explained IFC Enterntainment president Jonathan Sehring, "Audiences are thirsting for films that inform and enlighten, as we've seen from the success of similar themed films. We're thrilled to have '...So Goes the Nation' on our slate."

The company's IFC First Take label will release the movie on October 4, 2006 in theaters and on cable VOD. Among those interviewed in the film are, according to an announcement, such high-ranking political officials as Edward Gillespie (Chairman of the Republican National Committee), Terry McAuliffe (former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee), Ken Mehlman (Bush's 2004 campaign manager), Mary Beth Cahill (Kerry's 2004 campaign manager), Matthew Dowd (Bush's chief campaign strategist), Tad Devine (Kerry's chief campaign strategist), Mark McKinnon (Bush's media strategist), and Paul Begala (a senior Democratic advisor).

The IFC pact is an all-media deal that was negotiated by the company's president Jonathan Sehring, and IFC's Elizabeth Nastro and Ryan Werner with filmmaker Stern, Doug Hansen and Cinetic's John Sloss for Endgame Entertainment.

Considering A President's Death

The hypothetical assassination of U.S. president George W. Bush, winner of the heated 2004 presidential election, has drawn a lot interest to Gabriel Range's "D.O.A.P." (Death Of A President"), a Toronto fest feature that TIFF co-director Noah Cowan calls "the most dangerous and breathtakingly original film" he has seen this year. The movie is structured as an investigative doc made two years after an unknown gunman kills Bush.

The film has drawn considerable media attention, stirring debates on U.S. news channels, and last week, Toronto fest organizers were compelled to issue a statement backing their decision to include it in the festival. Planners noted that the movie is screening in the Visions program, which "spotlights films which challenge our notions of mainstream cinema and explore new cinematic territory." Continuing in the statement, the festival said, "The Toronto International Film Festival is committed to the free expression of ideas and to engaging audiences in thoughtful discussion about issues of the day. 'D.O.A.P.' contributes meaningfully to the public discourse surrounding current social issues, demonstrates highly original storytelling techniques and utilizes innovative digital effects."

Continuing, the festival noted that the perspectives and/or opinions expressed in its films do not necessarily reflect those of the Toronto International Film Festival Group. And it added, "The film is not exploitative in any way and treats what would certainly be a great tragedy respectfully and un-cynically. In the tradition of great cautionary tales, a terrible and horrifying event unveils certain aspects of society's current fears and future trends."

Moore The Maverick

Among the hot tickets on Friday night will be the Maverick session with filmmaker Michael Moore. Festival organizers indicate that Moore will talk about his work since "Fahrenheit 9/11," and will screen a short teaser from his upcoming "Sicko," a look at the U.S. health care system, as well as segments from the work-in-progress "The Great '04 Slacker Uprising," a secret project about the '04 election that includes a look at, in the words of the festival, "the birth of a new political generation."

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