Film industry gets political in ’04

The movie industry isn’t particularly known for being politically involved or a forum for various governmental agendas. In this year alone, nearly a dozen films protest the current president and the injustice he’s done to the American people.

In September Tapes, an American actor is sent to document the search for Osama bin Laden nearly a year after Sept. 11. The results are shocking, and the film illustrates the devastation brought upon this country as the United States feverishly hunts the al-Qaeda leader.

September Tapes has been commonly referred to as the Osama Witch Project because of its similar shooting technique (or lack thereof) and the facts themselves are pretty hard to stomach. In the film, the crew is met with hostility and they witness first hand the destruction caused by U.S. occupation and the rift between those occupied and our government.

The film opened in Tampa and Dallas this past weekend but won’t play in any major markets such as New York and Los Angeles until the 24th of this month — a strange case of role reversal, as most releases hit New York theaters before venturing to the Bay.

On the indie scene, films such as Uncovered: The War on Iraq and Bush’s Brain have taken more direct hits at our commander in chief. Uncovered: The War on Iraq aims to horrify viewers with an honest and all-too-real look at the turmoil surrounding the pointless war in Iraq.

Bush’s Brain probes through the inner workings of Bush’s administration to find out who is actually running the country.

Honestly, a man who chokes while snacking on pretzels, spends most of his time vacationing and has a hard time getting through a speech isn’t qualified to run this great nation. The film comes to the conclusion that Karl Rove, Bush’s intelligent chief aide, is the man controlling the fate of our nation.

Many filmmakers are keeping a close eye on the November elections, as the conservatives have termed anyone with an opinion different than theirs anti-American.

“I’m very nervous about this election because we’re all going to go to hell if George Bush wins,” Spike Lee told, pointing to jobs lost by Whoopi Goldberg and Linda Ronstadt after they spoke up against Bush.

Director Lee has always been known for his edgy portrayals of urban life and with his latest film, She Hates Me, takes a subtle shot at the Bush administration. In the first moments of the film, Lee places Bush’s photo on a three-dollar bill also adorned with the Enron logo. But She Hates Me caused little-to-no stir and fizzled at the box office this past summer. The political message Lee was hoping to convey was lost as another filmmaker’s documentary skyrocketed, becoming a surprise blockbuster. That film was Fahrenheit 9/11.

Fahrenheit 9/11’s main purpose wasn’t to make the American public aware of the hypocrisy occurring at the federal level, but to incite audiences to vote again. No matter what side of the political fence you’re on, Fahrenheit 9/11 forced some kind of reaction, whether it swayed undecided voters or reaffirmed liberals. The film proved that movies could be both lucrative and effective ways of campaigning; Fahrenheit 9/11 has already grossed more than $118 million domestically. Michael Moore is putting more wood to the frame by pushing to have Fahrenheit 9/11 re-released with added footage just in time for the election.

Lee is concerned that Moore has been threatened, and judging by the new entourage of guards that follow the filmmaker, his fear isn’t without basis. “Michael Moore would not need armed guards around him 24 hours a day if that film had no impact,” Lee told, who spoke to Moore. “He’s not happy about it, with his life being threatened. I wouldn’t be happy either.”

Voicing his discontent for Bush and his administration is Sean Penn, who’s no stranger to political outbursts. Penn’s forthcoming film, The Assassination of Richard Nixon shows the extent one man will go to appease his discontent. In the movie, Sam Bricke (Penn) is sick and tired of the way things are going and decides that he is going to kill President Nixon. Sound a bit far-fetched? It’s based on true events — though the assassination never took place. The film hits multiplexes December 29, in time for Oscar consideration but a bit late for the impending election. Penn parallels the film with the frustration this government has caused the American people.

“I think that administrations have to look at how they oppress their own people and people in other countries and understand that if they take people’s hopes and dreams away, bad things can happen,” Penn told Reuters.

What started with Fahrenheit 9/11 has led to September Tapes, and the message is clear: Hollywood is taking a stance this election. September Tapes won’t have the effect that Moore’s film had and most likely none of the films will alter the election’s outcome, but it’s nice to see movies with a clear, smart argument pertaining to issues that concern the American public.