2016: Obama’s America has become the fifth highest-grossing political documentary of all time and the most lucrative documentary of 2012. The documentary is based on Dines D’Souza’s book The Roots of Obama’s Rageand features an interview with Obama’s half brother, George Obama. But when it comes to highest grossing documentaries, Fahrenheit 911 easily tops the list followed by Sicko, An Inconvenient Truth, and Bowling for Columbine.
Michael Moore has taken this style of filmmaking to a new level which is either a positive or a negative, depending on your point of view. The genre can promote ideas or a specific ideology and with shrewd media relations or PR, it can reach a remarkably large audience. What some see as fact finding and truth telling, others view as blatant advocacy at best and political advertising at worst.
For years this type of filmmaking was seen as extremely niche and unprofitable, but over the last decade all that has changed. The film genre has become increasingly accepted and successful in theatrical release. Films such as Fahrenheit 911, Religlous and An Inconvenient Truth have shown that documentaries can not only make a statement, they can also make money. Compared to narrative features, documentaries can generally be made for pennies on the dollar making them less risky ventures since even in a limited theatrical release can result in a decent return.
For a while it seemed as though those with a progressive or more liberal message were the main players in the documentary film world, but in 2012 2016: Obama’s America quickly evened the playing field. Now a new political documentary enters the fray with the release of The Prosecution of an American President. The film documents the efforts of Vincent Bugliosi, one of our nation’s foremost prosecutors, as he presents his case that former president George W. Bush should be prosecuted for the deaths of over 4,000 American soldiers who died in Iraq. Based on Bugliosi’s controversial New York Times bestseller, the movie discloses hidden details of how key Bush officials and President Bush himself systematically lied to Congress and the American people, deliberately taking our nation to war under false pretenses. Watch the trailer here:
According to the film, Bush and his people said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They didn’t. They said Saddam was an imminent threat to our national security. He wasn’t. They convinced us Iraq was involved in 9/11. They weren’t. And yet America, still reeling from the tragic September 11 attacks, launched a full scale invasion of Iraq.
As with 2016: Obama’s America, The Prosecution of an American President has a specific market it’s addressing. The interesting challenge for all of these politically oriented documentaries is to see if they can not only speak to the choir, but enlist a few new converts.
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012