Cutler is an expert on the subject, having been the ambitious producer who convinced George Stephanopoulos to allow a documentary crew to follow Governor Bill Clinton’s 1992 run for President around in “The War Room,” and directing “A Perfect Candidate” and “The World According to Dick Cheney.” Cutler recently did an extensive interview with Programming Director Sadie Tillery that is a must read for anybody who is interest in the history of documentary film, or American politics. As Cutler told Tillery, “There are many ways to view the films collected in ‘Perfect and Otherwise: Documenting American Politics,’ but those who choose to do so chronologically will experience a narrative of both American politics and documentary filmmaking over a 65-year span.”
“Primary” (1960), Dir: Robert Drew
Robert Drew’s groundbreaking film follows the 1960 Wisconsin primary as John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey go head-to-head in a battle for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
“Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment” (1963), Dir: Robert Drew
This in-depth look at the University of Alabama’s integration crisis chronicles key decisions from multiple perspectives, including those of Governor George Wallace and President John F. Kennedy.
“Campaign Manager” (1964), Dir: Richard Leacock, Noel E. Parmentel Jr.
This brief (25 minute) portrait follows 28-year-old campaign manager John Grenier as he maps out strategies for Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential run and engineers a takeover of the Republican convention. (Short)
“Jingle Bells” (1964), Dir: DA Pennebaker
This short film trails New York Senate hopeful Robert Kennedy as he makes a public appearance at a New York City children’s school at Christmas time.
“Medium Cool” (1969), Dir: Haskell Wexler
A narrative film set against real footage of the riots surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention, unpacks the moral obligations of bearing witness through the story of a news cameraman and his relationship with a single mother. The one of a kind hybrid film by the late, great DP Haskell Wexler.
“America Is Hard to See” (1970), Dir: Emile de Antonio
“The War Room” (1993), Dir: Chris Hegedus, DA Pennebaker
Watch James Carville and George Stephanopoulos as they plot, react and attack to ensure Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton is elected president.
“A Perfect Candidate” (1996), Dir: R.J. Cutler, David Van Taylor
Campaign strategists, and an acutely aware journalist, take center stage in this document of the volatile 1994 Virginia senatorial race between Oliver North and Charles Robb.
“Taking On the Kennedys” (1996), Dir: Joshua Seftel
In his first race for public office, Rhode Island doctor Kevin Vigilante finds himself running a congressional campaign against 26-year-old Patrick Kennedy, Ted Kennedy’s youngest son. Vigilante’s 1994 race is against more than his opponent; he’s gone into battle against one of the most powerful families in American politics.
“With God On Our Side: Prophets and Advisors” (1996), Dir: David Van Taylor
This episode of the comprehensive six-hour series “With God On Our Side” explores the rise of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and its influence during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
“Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed” (2004), Dir: Shola Lynch
A powerful look at Shirley Chisholm’s pioneering, grassroots campaign for president considered through the recollections of many, including the candidate herself.
“Our Brand Is Crisis” (2005), Dir: Rachel Boynton
The doc that inspired last year’s Sandra Bullock starrer. American political strategists from the firm Greenberg Carville Shrum travel south to advise on marketing tactics for Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada’s campaign for president of Bolivia.
“Caucus” (2013), Dir: AJ Schnack
In 2012, eight unorthodox GOP candidates navigate the Iowa caucuses — an endless series of public events and uncomfortable questions — in hopes of securing their party’s nomination.
Check out the trailer for the fictionalized version of “Our Brand is Crisis” below: