Reuters guy Arthur Spiegelman went to last night’s Toronto Film Festival premiere of Death of a President and has reported that it received a “short burst” of “mild applause from an audience that seemed more interested in how it was made than why.” He also writes that “moviegers left with mixed feelings, with one American tourist calling it overhyped but interesting.”
Producer-director Gabriel Range “complained there had been a rush to judgment about his film, spurred by both its subject matter and by a still photo from the movie that superimposed President George Bush‘s head on an actor being shot,” Spiegelman writes. “Many of the questions for Range concerned how he managed to make the film so realistic and whether authorities in Chicago, where it was filmed, knew what he was doing.”
That’s the part that has me interested — the purported realism of the footage. That’s why I’m making Tueday’s press screening come hell or high water.
DOAP “opens with demonstrations against Bush as he visits Chicago in 2007. As he leaves a hotel after delivering a speech, he is shot by a sniper in a nearby building. A police hunt leads to the arrest of a Palestinian man on flimsy evidence. Later the man is convicted of the assassination and kept in prison even as evidence points to another man as having committed the crime.
“Despite the sensationalism of its subject matter,” Spiegelman observes, “the film tries to be a low-key and sober look at the effects of Bush’s post 9/11 policies on U.S. society, especially on civil liberties.”
“I hope we portrayed the horror of assassination,” Range said. “There have been plenty of fictional films about assassination and I don’t think anyone would get the idea of assassinating Bush from this film.”