2004: George W. Bush
Confronting Iraq: Conflict and Hope
Director: Roger Aranoff
2004 marks a shift for the “campaign documentary” in that it roused the interests of many partisan groups and independent filmmakers to create documentaries on behalf of either President George W. Bush or his opponent, Sen. John Kerry.
Fahrenheit 9/11, which remains the highest-grossing documentary of all time, is an anti-Bush film that criticizes the “War on Terror” and the president’s candidacy. It calls the 2000 election results a fraud and questions the seemingly dubious motives of the dual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The film was followed by films with a similar aim of discrediting the Bush administration such as Bush’s Brain by Joseph Mealey and Michael Shoob, and two films by Robert Greenwald, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism and Uncovered: The Whole Truth of the War in Iraq.
These films were countered by documentaries that attacked Moore, such as Kevin Knoblock’s Celsius 41.11: The Temperature at Which the Brain Begins to Die (a rip on Fahrenheit 9/11’s subtitle, “The Temperature at Which Freedom Burns”), Fahrenhype 9/11 by Alan Peterson, and Michael Moore Hates America by Michael Wilson.
Positive portrayals of Bush were seen in documentaries such as George W. Bush: Faith in the White House, a film directed by David W. Balsinger and made readily available to churches that showed the president as a deeply religious man, and Roger Aronoff’s Confronting Iraq: Conflict and Hope, which defends President Bush’s war decisions.