July 9 – August 24, 2016
To mark this election year, novelist, radio host, and Film Streams Advisory Board Member Kurt Andersen curated a twelve-film series celebrating silver-screen depictions of the political process. A discussion with Andersen and Jonathan Alter, NBC News contributing correspondent and bestselling political author, touching on films from throughout the series is planned for Wednesday, August 10, at 7 pm.
Asked about the inspiration behind the series, Andersen writes:
I’ve seen 2016 coming for a while.
Back in 1988, as co-editor of the satirical magazine Spy, I commissioned a national poll to measure public interest in the completely ridiculous idea of Donald Trump running for President, and regularly referred to an imaginary dystopian fiction called 2000 AD: Casinos of the Fourth Reich, in which Trump was a recurring character. A decade later, after Bill Clinton’s sex scandal broke and his polling numbers counter-intuitively went up, I wrote an article for The New Yorker called “Entertainer-in-Chief.” My theory of the case was that in the TV age, from John Kennedy through Ronald Reagan and then Clinton, our presidents had become performers playing the role of President of the United States, and that the Lewinsky affair had made The Clinton Show more entertaining.
Now here we are, watching an actual presidential election campaign more like an over-the-top dark comedy than I ever imagined possible, starring those familiar characters from 20 and 30 years ago. It seemed like a perfect moment to mount a festival of a dozen films, variously great and intriguing, about American politics.
Several are classics, featuring idealist politicians – MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, THE BEST MAN, THE CANDIDATE. But several others seemed particularly apt for the present political moment. BULWORTH is about an entertainingly impolitic, truth-telling candidate. GABRIEL OVER THE WHITE HOUSE is a drama about a heroic fascist President and IDIOCRACY is a dystopian comedy about a future President who’d been a pro wrestler and porn star. And WAR ROOM, the one documentary in the series, is about the first President Clinton’s first presidential campaign.