It’s no secret that conservatives are losing to progressives in the pop culture footrace. Think the classic “Tortoise and the Hare” story just after the starter’s pistol fires. Conservatives are the tortoise in this example, of course.
The future looks grim, despite efforts by Nick Searcy and Antonio Sabato, Jr. to jump-start right-leaning film studios. The documentary genre, however, offers a glimmer of hope.
For years, right-leaning filmmakers cranked out documentaries, often struggling to compete with their deeper-pocketed peers. Eight years ago, the shocking success of “2016: Obama’s America” changed that, offering robust box office results and solid production values. Others then followed, often courtesy of “2016’s” unlikely star, Dinesh D’Souza.
Thanks to new digital platforms, inexpensive technology, and conservatives finally realizing the power of visual media, the landscape is now different. Last year’s “No Safe Spaces,” paying close attention to the finer details, delivered a cautionary tale that came true all too quickly.
Production values. Visual appeal. Storytelling snap. And it’s only the beginning. Here’s a list of recent or soon-to-be-released documentaries that speak to a right-of-center perspective.
1. “What Killed Michael Brown?” (Oct. 16)
The film’s title alone is provocative, and the vantage point similarly throws sharp elbows. Author Shelby Steele narrates this withering look at how American culture turned the death of a Missouri black man into a nationwide scandal, bending the truth beyond recognition in the process.
The author’s son, filmmaker Eli Steele of “How Jack Became Black” fame, directs this timely look at how race relations, power, and media malfeasance can create a tragic narrative.
That trend repeated itself six years later with the death of George Floyd, which the film ties into the larger narrative about black victimhood and identity politics.
2. “The Plot Against the President” (Oct. 1)
If the name Amanda Milius sounds familiar, it should. She’s the daughter of maverick filmmaker John Milius, the right-leaning auteur who wrote “Apocalypse Now” and brought “Red Dawn” to the big screen.
“The Plot Against The President,” based on the book of the same name by Lee Smith, captures the “Deep State’s” effort to upend Donald Trump’s presidency. It’s an ambitious first feature for any director, but Milius grew up on movie sets and studied filmmaking at the University of Southern California before segueing to a career inside the Beltway. Now, she’s back behind a camera for a film sure to ruffle feathers.
The film arrives mere days after “The Comey Rule,” the Showtime miniseries based on the now-discredited Russian Collusion narrative.
3. “America’s Forgotten” (Oct. 16)
This sudden entry, call it the right’s October Surprise, may be the most subversive of them all.
Left-leaning filmmaker Namrata Singh Gujral delivers a movie so explosive the film’s cast worked without recognition for fear of reprisal. Is that the truth, or simply a killer marketing gimmick? Given our age of cancel culture, anything is possible.
The film’s tag line hints at the film’s content: “A broken immigration system leaves a slew of victims in its rudderless wake.”
Here’s one example: The film shows all of the Democratic presidential hopefuls vowing to let illegal immigration flourish, followed by a clip of a coyote showing that very clip to coax Mexicans to illegally cross the border.
Need another? How about heartbreaking stories of people killed by illegal immigrants, a narrative the mainstream media won’t touch?
4. “Trump Card” (Oct. 9)
It wouldn’t be a political season without a button-pushing film from D’Souza. His latest, “Trump Card,” exposes the modern Democratic party’s socialist agenda.
D’Souza follows a similar formula to past hits like “Hillary’s America” and “Death of a Nation.” His docudrama approach, with a dash of Michael Moore, finds the author/filmmaker using his personal biography to shed light on the modern political scene.
His socialist critiques couldn’t come at a more critical time.
5. “Man in the Arena”
Hollywood took not one, not two, but three whacks at Fox News via its founder, Roger Ailes: “Bombshell,” “The Loudest Voice” and “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes.”
“Arena” offers a more positive perspective, and one which adds context often missing from Ailes’ cinematic story. The documentary examines Ailes’ formative years, his alliances with key Republican figures, and the dawn of his greatest achievement, Fox News.
The filmmaking here is first rate, another sign that liberal documentarians don’t have a monopoly on the genre. The documentary soft pedals the severity of the sexual abuse allegations against the late Ailes, but otherwise it’s a vital, necessary documentary buoyed by narration from Jon Voight.
6. “Uncle Tom”
Larry Elder may be the last person you want to square off against in a debate. Now, the syndicated talker is turning his agile mind to the documentary format, with startling results.
“Uncle Tom” lets black conservatives share the ugly names they’re called for loving smaller government and greater freedoms. That’s just the introductory material. The meat of the story is getting to know this group of brave, savvy conservatives who just happen to be black.
The film also admonishes the Republican party for not trying harder to reach out to black America — a hard position to deny.
7. “Bad Decision: The Joe Biden Story”
Veteran film producer Jason Killian Meath examines Biden’s litany of lousy decisions. He’s been famously called “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades” by President Obama’s defense secretary Robert Gates.
“Bad Decisions” digs deeper, looking into Biden’s shady Ukraine and China dealings, as well as the wealth he accumulated along the way.
The documentary, available on Newsmax, also explores how the former moderate aligned himself with his party’s more radical elements.
Meath’s resume, which includes “Citizen Carly,” “The Surge: The Untold Story,” and “Rocky Mountain Heist” make him an elder statesman, of sorts, within the conservative documentary field.
8. “Chaos by the Bay: The Truth About Homelessness in San Francisco”
Writer-turned-filmmaker Christopher F. Rufo shared his withering, 10-minute short on San Francisco’s public decline via YouTube. The mini-doc, which generated more than 200,000 views in less than two months, indicts city officials for letting the homelessness in San Francisco spiral out of control.
Astute news readers know all about the San Francisco “poop” maps and other acute signs of societal unrest. “Chaos” looks beyond those frightening headlines, letting the facts paint a disturbing picture media outlets tip toe around.
9. “Denver in Decay”
Colorado talk show host and filmmaker Steffan Tubbs leaned on crowdfunding to bring this feisty film to life, drawing more than 67,000 YouTube views in roughly a week. The documentary’s bigger success is rooted in capturing both the intractable homeless problem in the Mile High City along with the violent protests following George Floyd’s death.
Those two toxic trends joined forces to leave the beautiful city a shadow of its former self. Tubbs has the political receipts to show why.
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