Sunday, July 16, 2006


What Up, Doc?

The Times explores the lack of right-leaning documentaries:

"THERE are exceptions to every rule,” said the writer, director and producer Charles E. Sellier Jr. “But I’ve been at this 34 years, and I really, honestly, believe that the more creative you are, the more likely you are to be a liberal.”

“I think there is a huge disconnect between conservatives and film,” said the festival director Jim Hubbard. “I don’t know if it’s in their DNA or what, but there’s definitely a reason conservatives tend to shun the arts.”

“The conservative movement has been about talk radio, maybe books,” said the filmmaker Michael Wilson. “Film — and music, to a large degree — has long been considered in the realm of liberal thought.”

It would be natural to assume that the three men quoted above labor somewhere on the left side of Hollywood, or make movies about free-trade coffee pickers and Chinese sneaker factories. None is the case. Mr. Sellier, chief executive of Grizzly Adams Productions, has been responsible for documentaries like “George W. Bush: Faith in the White House” and the religiously themed “Breaking the Da Vinci Code.” Mr. Hubbard, with his wife, Ellen Gard Hubbard, founded the right-leaning, Dallas-based American Film Renaissance festival in 2004. And Mr. Wilson was responsible for one of the more successful conservative documentaries of recent years, “Michael Moore Hates America.”

What the three acknowledge, however, is that something besides liberal bias is responsible for the striking shortage of conservative nonfiction cinema at a time when filmmakers on the other end of the spectrum are flooding screens with messages about global warming, the war in Iraq and the downside of Wal-Mart.

Mr. Hubbard, for one, is out to fill the void. He said a philanthropist, whom he declined to identify, had come forward with money to help finance a series of six documentaries that Mr. Hubbard wanted to produce, on various subjects, including the growth of government and whether it is “potentially a threat to our freedom.”
The article never fully explains the paucity of conservative docs. However, it may ultimately have something to do with being a self-fulfilling prophecy. Individuals -- and various groups that form around a given values- and belief-driven identity -- tend to gravitate to self-sustaining cultures.

Conservatives excelled in talk-radio, thus you find more throughout the field (both behind the microphones and on the production side. Obviously, the Fox News Channel has managed to be a safe haven for various conservative and libertarian voices and viewpoints.

Liberals manage to find a niche in documentaries and continue to be over-represented in the field.

However, now that money-men are willing to put up funds for documentaries, it's inevitable that quality right-leaning docs will be made -- though it won't happen immediately.

Some of the "conservative" documentaries that came out in the '90s -- such as the conspiracy-driven "
Clinton Chronicles" -- were embarrassing from both their conception to their quality.

However, surprisingly, the Timez doesn't mention last year's film, Broken Promises, which, though highly critical of the United Nations, was professionally produced and narrated by actor and Bush-backer
Ron Silver.

While co-produced by veteran Clinton-hater David Bossie, one couldn't argue with the final product (the sections involving UN failures in the Balkans and Rwanda were particularly effective).

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