Barack Obama’s campaign last year certainly excited many people, including the Hollywood’s celebrities who supported him and the media frenzy that covered him.
But has the influence of Hollywood, politics and the media blurred the lines of distinction too much? That’s the question writer/director Barry Levinson poses in his new documentary, "Poliwood," which kicked off the White House Correspondents’ weekend with a DC premiere at the Naval Heritage Museum on Friday.
The Academy Award-winning director
is known for films like Diner,
Sleepers, The Natural and Rain Man. But who can forget Levinson’s 1997 film, Wag the Dog, a brilliant display of power a Hollywood producer and a Washington spin doctor can have when they join forces.
"Poliwood" begs the same question; who has the most power and who has the most influence? The Creative Coalition
, a non-partisan group that rallies for education and arts advocacy, teamed up with Levinson
to create the film essay that follows the intersection of the famous and well known (actors, politicians, media folks) with everyone else.
Levinson accompanied some of the Creative Coalition
’s most active members as they headed to the 2008 DNC, the RNC and the Inauguration itself. A notable cast of A-list stars -- from Susan Sarandon
and Ellen Burstyn to Spike Lee and Anne Hathaway
-- are found alongside some of Washington’s biggest politicos.
A few highlights make for interesting fodder. Like some intense moments inside a focus group between a group of everyday folk and actors like Josh Lucas and Rachel Leigh Cook. Anne Hathaway expressing self doubt when she questions whether or not she has enough knowledge to be talking politics. Susan Sarandon demanding answers in a town hall-like meet and greet in Denver during the DNC. And some delightful commentary from some of our most colorful media personalities (ahem, MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson) provides comedic relief in the thought-provoking piece that just screened at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.
After the screening Friday night, Levinson, Creative Coalition president TIm Daly, actors Dana Delaney, Rachel Leigh Cook and Matthew Modine followed up with a Q&A session with the audience.