11 Oct 2016

Dan Slevin: election campaign documentaries

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:35 pm on 11 October 2016
Still from the 1993 documentary, The War Room

Still from the 1993 documentary, The War Room Photo: You tube

The 1993 Academy Award-nominated documentary The War Room famously went behind the scenes of the Clinton campaign's attempt to win the presidency from George H Bush.

Dan Slevin from RNZ's Widescreen discusses that and other campaigns on film.

He says Bill Clinton's was the first 'rock and roll' presidential campaign and the documentary makers, Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker, had unprecedented access.

"We get some amazing moments of drama. On the night of the election itself the secret service had basically cleared out the war room and the only people left in there are James Carville and George Stephanopoulus and the film makers and they’re watching the TV and realising they’ve got this landslide and how their life is going to be different."

Clinton staffers Carville and Stephanopoulus went on to become political stars as a result of the campaign.

"The way that these documentary films have portrayed campaigns in times past is really instructive about the way our political civilisation has changed over time. I think that these things are important. History is important, not just historical documents, but great works of drama, as well." Dan says. 

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