The movie that won the Prize of the International Film Critics at the Toronto Film Festival last month is due to be released in the US on October 27th. Death of a President is a ‘mockumentary’ based on George Bush being assassinated in 2007.
There is controversy here about showing the movie that premiered at the film festival in September. BBC News reports that
Two US cinema chains say they will not screen a controversial British film portraying the fictional assassination of President George W Bush.
Regal Entertainment Group, which has more than 6,300 screens in 40 US states, said it would not show the film because of its subject matter.
Spokesman Dick Westerling said: “We do not feel it is appropriate to portray the future assassination of a president, therefore we do not intend to programme this film at any of our theatres.”
Cinemark USA, which operates about 2,500 screens in 34 states, told trade newspaper The Hollywood Reporter it would not screen the film.
A spokeswoman for AMC Entertainment, which runs 5,600 screens, told Reuters news agency her company had yet to make a decision.
Richard Abramowitz, consultant for US distributor Newmarket Films, said the film had been booked to be screened in more than 100 venues
Personally, the trailer and clips present a very real possibility. The increasing anger over the war and Bush’s apparent obstinance to ‘changing’ the course is only one reason W’s approval ratings have sunk back into the 30’s. Bush has had a problem with security from the day he took office. Overseas has been a huge problem and a few Americans might think they have reason to get him out of office with a bullet rather than wait out his term or for impeachment.
Although I have taken to counting the days until he leaves office (835), assassination is clearly not the answer. The fact that British director Gabriel Range made the movie reinforces a possibility that I see as a trigger for more civil unrest than this country saw during the Vietnam anti-war movement.
This isn’t about what the movie might do to the elections twelve days later. I doubt it would affect many voters in that way. It matters more to me that it could serve as a flashpoint for emotions that are well into fury for too many people.
Can it open the minds of an administration that seems determined not to see the country becoming united against it? I would rather see that come from the November ballot boxes than this explosive scenario. Art supposedly immitates life. Films don’t get good box office returns unless enough people are willing to see the movie. This one is not in the league of the major attractions and the resistance of major chains to carry it may be wise, even if driven by conservative priorities.
This is not about censorship in the authoritarian mode. Without having seen the film, the scenario of an investigation three years after the event working it’s way to the final revelation of who shot the president does not strike me as addressing the issue. Perhaps if it were about an attemped assassination, it could be more constructive and less inflammatory.
The sad part is this immaginary film may end up being seen by more people than two important documentaries about the real world, Iraq for Sale and The Big Buy . I suggest that distracting from the mockumentary using Greenwald’s films might be worth considering.