It's not often that a documentary makes news.
With a few notable exceptions—Michael Moore or Davis Guggenheim whose Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman inspired national debates about climate change and U.S. schools—opening a new documentary usually garners as much coverage as the Metrodome in a blizzard.
Which is why the opening of The Undefeated is so interesting.
More than Atlas Shrugged, people can't stop talking about this curiously titled documentary of the rise (and fall? and rise?) of Sarah Palin.
In the coming months, muckraking rabble-rouser Nick Broomfield (Kurt & Courtney, Biggie & Tupac, Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam, Aileen Wuornos: Portrait of a Serial Killer) will offer his take on the politician turned reality show subject.
For now we have the chance to see right-leaning filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon's (Battle for America, Fire from the Heartland) spin in a new doc inspired by Palin's book "Going Rogue: An American Life."
While I believe it won't change anyone's opinion about political lightning rod/left-wing whipping post/tea party patron saint Sarah Palin—if anything it'll further solidify whatever position you currently hold—you kind of can't help but watch as he chronicles the tempest in hopes of stirring the teapot.
What drew you to this subject?
I observed Governor Palin for over a year as I made my two 'tea party' films Generation Zero and Fire from the Heartland. Besides her obvious charisma, I noticed someone of real substance who had a real connection with the Tea Party. As I studied her background, I realized no one had ever told the real story of her rise from total obscurity to prominence. The reality was so different than the meme that I felt compelled to tell it.
Given Sarah Palin's well documented mistrust of mainstream media, how did you get access? What were some of the challenges of this shoot? Was she a willing participant? What does she think of the film?
I turned down making a series of short Youtube videos that her PAC asked me to do because I wanted to do a feature film...and do it my way with no involvement from the Palin camp. The story of her governorship has not been told—how she battled a corrupt political class and took on Big Oil.
And I was determined to tell it.
We shot in secret in Alaska and 'masked' our requests for archival footage so the stations would not get suspicious. As much as she is covered in Alaska we didn't want anyone to know we were making the definitive story about her career.
Do you view the film as fair and balanced? Is it the job of a documentary to be balanced? Or is it best to present a point of view?
I come at my films with a strong POV. I'm a conservative filmmaker. The film is very fair and very balanced in that it tells the story as it happened.
Whose career to you most emulate?
I've studied the masters like Pare Lorentz, Michael Moore, Dziga Vertov and Leni Reifenstahl (without their politics), Errol Morris for style and technique..especially how do you make complex topics 'accessible'.
John Ford is my cinematic hero so I would hope to emulate him.
Historically, documentaries have performed poorly at the box office—with only 3 of the top 10 grossing docs of all time topping $33 million; and the top grossing doc ($119 million) not even sniffing the top 300. Why a documentary?
I think non-fiction films deal with more interesting subject matter than fiction. I just love docs and think the ability to monetize them is growing.
With so much news coverage, a bus tour, two best-selling books, an active twitter feed, a TLC reality show, a contract with Fox News, and an active social networking presence where Sarah's own words reach her base people directly, what does your film tell us that we don't already know about her?
Governor Palin is a 'McLuhan-esque' figure in that she is encased in media but the real story has been hiding in plain sight. The meme is that she is a bimbo—"Caribou Barbie" and a ideologue —the empirical evidence is just the opposite: a leader of extraordinary accomplishments and a uniter that brought all parties together to fight corruption and Big Oil.
Sarah Palin is polarizing figure—and its safe to say that most people have made up their minds about her. Do you see this film as fodder for the converted, or can it change peoples' minds? If so, how?
I did not make this film for the 'Palinista's'. I made it for folks who don't know much about her—and what they know they don't like. If they come with an open mind they will be shocked.
Do you think America is more divided today than any time in the past? What does this say about our democracy? Is it healthy? Unhealthy? What's the difference between dissent, disagreement & debate and outright denial?
The founders set up our system of government to be 'adversarial'—there is supposed to be conflict—the more the better.
What we have to do is tone down the incivility.
What news sources should people consult to make sure they are receiving the complete spectrum of news?
Real Clear Politics/Markets/World; Daily Beast; Breitbart Bigs; Daily Caller; Huffington Post; Burning Platform; BBC; Financial Times; The Atlantic; Economist
What's the difference between news and a commentary infused documentary?
News=Fox & PBA; Commentary=Film
Here's the Press Release:
Highly Anticipated “Sweeping Epic” That Transcends Politics is Launching in Select Cities Before National Rollout
Huffington Post: “The Undefeated: The Movie I Wish Hillary Had Made”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Santa Monica, Calif. Atlanta, Georgia AMC Barrett Commons 24 Movie Theater will exclusively debut the highly controversial film on Sarah Palin, The Undefeated, on Friday, July 15th. Tickets are now available for purchase at http://theundefeated.cinedigm.com/tickets.html
The highly anticipated film on Sarah Palin’s rise from obscurity to national prominence explores the obstacles that Governor Palin faced as she confronted the vested interests in her own state including the Republican establishment and big oil.
Scott Conroy of RealClearPolitics called the film a “sweeping epic;” Amy Siskind of the Huffington Post says, “I would encourage you to see The Undefeated…allow yourself to be curious;” Dan Riehl of Big Hollywood said, “I’ve not been able to get through (the film) once without checking back tears born of a mix of emotion- from sadness and anger, to frustration and deep concern;” and John Nolte of Big Hollywood called the film, a “…moving must-see.”
“ARC Entertainment is proud to provide AMC Barrett Commons 24 Movie Theater and Atlanta amongst the initial locations to launch this highly controversial film,” said Trevor Drinkwater, CEO of ARC Entertainment the film’s worldwide distributor. “This is NOT a Sarah Palin fan club movie. It transcends politics and shows no mercy to either the Left or the Republican establishment. Her story is one that every mother and daughter - indeed, every citizen - needs to see.”
The Undefeated was written and directed by Stephen K. Bannon. The film was independently produced by Bannon and Victory Film Group co-founder Glenn Bracken Evans and Dan Fleuette and was financed independently by Victory Film Group and its partners.
"We are excited to bring this epic film to Atlanta. Anyone who watches this film, conservative, liberal, independent, I guarantee comes away with a different view of Sarah Palin than the ‘Caribou Barbie’-like image the big media have imposed on her,” said Stephen K. Bannon.
“Governor Palin was by far one of the most productive Governors in America’s history. The real truth, track record and her story were finally captured in The Undefeated,” stated Glenn Bracken Evans.
“In 18 months, she took on the big oil companies and the corrupt Republican establishment, forever changing Alaska and earning some of the highest approval ratings ever for a Governor. While much has been written and said about Governor Palin, the true story of her rise and her accomplishments has, until now, remained untold.”
About Victory Film Group
Victory Film Group develops, produces and distributes films that address today’s leading political, socio-economical and cultural issues from a conservative perspective. www.victoryfilmgroup.com
For More Information
Complete ticket information is here.
The film screens here:
Atlanta, Georgia AMC Barrett Commons 24 Movie Theater Will Debut the Highly Controversial Film on Sarah Palin: The Undefeated, Friday, July 15th
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