I’ve been making documentary films about American politics for two decades. For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated with politics. When I was seven, my parents found me out on a nearby corner of my New Jersey suburban neighborhood, stopping people as they walked by, asking them if they were for John F. Kennedy or Richard Nixon for President. And then trying to convince the JFK folks that Nixon was the one (well, my Dad was a loyal Republican).
Filmmaking gave me a chance to present a very different view of politics than I was used to seeing on my post-Watergate all-politics-is-bad TV. The politics that I knew as a volunteer, a pollster, an analyst, and full time political junkie was full of people who were passionate about their beliefs and who also had fun (yes, fun) participating in the electoral process.
Campaigns had their surreal sides, fueled by very young folks who really people most campaign staffs. Those campaigns are in constant states of dysfunction, each one trying to make it across the final line on election day, at least one vote ahead. And the candidates, while as flawed as any human beings, were flesh and blood and often very compelling characters, the stuff of good, and sometimes great, narrative.
I wanted everyone to know how important politics was, how important the stakes of who won and who lost were, and to realize just how entertaining, colorful, and dramatic it was as well. Politics matters. It determines if we go to war or not. It determines if abortion is legal or not. It determines what programs get funded or which do not. And for some of us, it defines the times we live in.
Films about politics (much as political candidates) need to appeal to people, in some way, to get them to pay attention. To entertain as well as enlighten. The best documentary films about American politics do just that. I hope that Last Man Standing carries on that tradition. And I hope that it provides you with a chance to increase civic engagement in your community.
Thanks for extending the impact,