Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Politics

RNC film festivals tout message on the big screen

Times Movie Critic

Like most Republicans, David Bossie thought Michael Moore's 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 was more betrayal than portrayal of President George W. Bush.

Unlike any other Bush supporter, Bossie did something about it.

As president of Citizens United, leading grass roots conservatives, Bossie produced his own movie supporting Bush. Then he made others — 21 documentaries, so far — advocating other conservative beliefs.

Five are being shown during the Republican National Convention at Citizens United Theater in Liberty Plaza, introduced by celebrity politicians like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

Citizens United Theater is the RNC's looming presence of political filmmaking, but not its only one.

Troublemaker Fest, endorsed by the Team Party, opened Sunday at Channelside Cinemas, sharing screens with the non-partisan Impact Film Festival. Away from the convention, conservative themes are playing out on screens at Tampa Theatre, the Straz Center, even the Improv comedy club in Ybor City.

Over two election cycles since Fahrenheit 9/11, more filmmakers tilt their cameras to the right. Bossie, 47, credits Moore for spurring conservatives into cinematic action.

"We believe the answer to speech you don't like is more speech, not less," Bossie said Sunday.

"I might disagree with Michael Moore's political persuasion and the style of his filmmaking — I don't think he lets facts get in the way of his story line — but I believe in his right to do it.

"Without free speech we have no other rights."

Admission is free to all Citizens United Theater screenings but must be reserved online at citizensunited.eventbrite.com.

Today's double feature begins at 1 p.m. with Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny, introduced by former House speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista. At 4 p.m., The Hope and the Change focuses on disenchanted Obama voters.

All tickets are claimed for Wednesday's screening of Our Sacred Honor, introduced by Sen. Rick Santorum. Tickets were available Monday for The Gift of Life (4 p.m.), an antiabortion documentary introduced by its star, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The screening of Occupy Unmasked washed out Monday by Tropical Storm Isaac is now slated for Thursday at 2 p.m. Bossie couldn't confirm if U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann will be available to introduce the movie.

Sunday at Channelside Cinemas, the first-ever Troublemaker Fest was launched to sparse attendance. This collection — including 21 screenings of Dinesh D'Souza's 2016: Obama's America — courts the youth vote President Obama carried by a wide margin in 2008.

Monday's planned debate at Troublemaker between Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street representatives was postponed and is expected to be rescheduled. Free screenings and appearances by D'Souza continue through Wednesday, with information available at troublemakerfest.com.

Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Impact Film Festival opened Monday at Channelside Cinemas. Admission is free with RSVPs available at eventfarm.com/impactfilmfestivalRNC.

Impact's slogan is "Where film crosses the aisle," raising awareness of social issues in both parties. Most of the same lineup will be shown at next month's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Today's events include an appearance by Oscar winning actor Jeff Bridges, narrator of Hunger Hits Home (12:30 p.m.).

Bossie welcomes all competition for the attention of undecided voters.

"We're aiming for the 5-to-7 million voters in the middle that could make a difference in this election," he said.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365.

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