2006-09-12 01:09:09 UTC
In a country that brags about the right of free speech, this movie
should prove to be an interesting test of that right.
Bush 'Death' drama aired at Toronto fest By DAVID GERMAIN, AP Movie
A sellout crowd at the Toronto International Film Festival gave a warm
reception to the British TV movie "Death of a President," which centers
on a fictionalized assassination of George W. Bush. The audience
applauded at the end and several more times during a
question-and-answer session with the filmmakers.
"I really liked it. It seemed very real. It was hard to believe the
people were acting. I found myself mesmerized," said Linda Walsh, a
real-estate broker from Mill Valley, Calif., who said she is not a Bush
"I'm always hoping when anything like this comes out that it will cause
people that perhaps haven't thought about things to think about them,"
Walsh said. "About the war, about the Patriot Act, about our judicial
Director Gabriel Range told the crowd afterward that he doesn't believe
"Death of a President" would incite anyone to attempt an assassination.
"I think the film makes it clear it would really be a horrific event.
There have been plenty of fictional films about assassinations, so this
is not the first in that sense," said Range, noting that Michael
Douglas' recent Secret Service thriller "The Sentinel" opens with
footage of the attempt on President Ronald Reagan's life.
"I really don't think that anyone would get the idea of assassinating
Bush from this film."
The film, which premiered Sunday night at the festival, is slated to
run Oct. 9 on More4, the digital offshoot of Britain's Channel 4
network. The movie chronicles the sniper shooting of Bush on Oct. 19,
2007, during a trip to Chicago for a speech on the economy. It includes
interviews with actors playing Secret Service and FBI officials, White
House aides, journalists and anti-war activists, along with suspects
and their relatives.
The film plays out like whodunit on a grand scale, tracing the twists
and turns of the investigation against the backdrop of the continuing
Iraq war, an expansion of the Patriot Act to give federal authorities
greater powers of surveillance, and other fallout from the Sept. 11
"It is using the lens of the future to look at the present," Range told
the premiere audience. "It is about issues that have affected us all in
the last five years. It is a film about America today."
The filmmakers were at the Toronto festival looking for U.S.
"Death of a President" blends archival footage of Bush interspersed
with fierce anti-war protests and other fictional scenes crafted by the
filmmakers. Actors posing as administration officials and Secret
Service agents were digitally grafted into some images of the president
and his entourage.
Bush is struck by two bullets fired by a sniper from a 20th story
window as the president is shaking hands with people outside a hotel
after his speech. The president dies after surgery at a hospital, and
Vice President Dick Cheney is sworn in.
The rest of the film tracks events over the following months as a
Syrian man is put on trial, with the investigation recalling the John
F. Kennedy assassination as authorities debate whether the suspect was
a lone gunman or part of an al-Qaeda conspiracy.
The investigation and the officials behind it come under scrutiny
themselves as the case takes a radical turn.
The filmmakers said they chose to use Bush rather than substitute a
fictitious president to heighten the authenticity.
"The central conceit of the film was that it is a drama, but told in
the style of what we hope is a fairly authentic, classic, retrospective
documentary," said producer Simon Finch, who co-wrote the screenplay
with Range. "Clearly, if we had told a retrospective documentary with a
fictional president, it would have undermined and undercut that central
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