The Death of a President interview

My review of the film

The Death of a President interview

Gabriel Range, black button-down shirt, shaved head, apparently 35 years old.  A very personal, sensitive fella who easily strayed from the topic.  This is the man who made a film that he knew would be talked about.  Before the interview began, he asked the six interviewers present which publications we each represented.  Range is keeping his eye on the papers…

The 213: You’ve done before what you called a ‘retrospective documentary’ with The Day Britain Stood Still.  Why are you interested in that type of storytelling?

Gabriel Range: I think it’s a really unusual way of looking at the future.  Or, a way of using the future to look at the present.  It’s a bit of a complicated thing, because it’s told in the past tense, it describes an event set in the future, but it’s really about what’s happened in the past.  I hope it works.  I think that you engage with the material in a different way.  When you look at a film that’s told in the vocabulary of the documentary, you have certain preconceptions which make you absorb the material in a different way.  If it was told as straight narrative fiction, like an episode of 24, then you dismiss it, or just absorb it as fiction.  Although this clearly is fiction, it is absolutely about the world we live in now.  The intent is always for it to feel as realistic and authentic as possible.

213: Have you ever been personally involved in any activism?

GR: I was in London during the protests against the impending invasion of Iraq.  I’ve been in New York for some of the protests there.

213: Nothing serious?

GR: Well, I absolutely took place in the protests against the impending invasion of Iraq.  And I have witnessed a lot of protests here in the US, but from more of the journalistic standpoint.

213: Was it difficult to get funding for the movie?

GR: No.  I think it would’ve been impossible to have got funding in the US.  And so…there are plenty of American filmmakers that would’ve – if I had been American, it would’ve been much harder for me to get this film off the ground.  You only have to look at the response that the film was being made as a pretty strong indicator that no American studio or company could’ve – politically – made this film.

213: What feelings do you want the audience to leave with?

GR: The jury at Toronto said that they thought the film distorted reality to reveal a greater truth.  If that the audience feels when they leave the theater, then I’m thrilled.

213: What truth?

GR: Well, I think what the film does is offers a series of…I see the film as a reflection of…I mean, I hope the film poses some serious questions about the way the War on Terror has been handled, the way this War on Terror is presented to the media, and the continuingly corrosive effect of the war in Iraq.  I mean, I think those are all things that are really important to think about.  Specifically the way the administration sought to connect 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq is something that is…an extraordinary thing.

conducted and transcribed by David Ashley