Maverick U.K. documentary helmer Nick Broomfield has made a career out of covering topics that include serial killers, prostitution, rock stars, sadomasochism and British leaders. His new subject is Sarah Palin.
“She’s a major political influence in this country, which makes her a very worthwhile subject to look at,” Broomfield says. “A portrait of Sarah Palin is also very much a portrait of where the American political system is at the moment.”
“Sarah Palin: You Betcha!” makes its world premiere at the Toronto Film Fest, with Cassian Elwes repping the U.S. rights.
Broomfield has raised more than $30,000 on Kickstarter towards a North American release. Though numerous pics have turned to crowdfunding for production coin, specifying that funds will go to distribution seems to be a fresh twist on the concept.
“This film was made for the American people, and Kickstarter now offers them a chance to be a part of the distribution process to directly support the documentary’s national rollout,” Broomfield says. “We need help getting this out, so voters gain a true understanding of the person who is asking for their political support.”
Content announced Aug. 3 that it will rep international rights to “You Betcha!” except for Channel 4’s U.K. TV rights.
Known for taking an unconventional look at his subjects — like Kurt Cobain in 1998’s “Kurt & Courtney,” which questioned Courtney Love’s possible role in the 1994 suicide of the Nirvana lead singer — Broomfield plays an essential role as an oncamera figure in all of his docs.
“My films are all about a subjective portrait. I’m not deliberately making the objective truth, BBC-type of documentary. That said, I went into (“You Betcha!”) very much with an open mind,” he says.
The helmer spent three months in Palin’s hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, meeting with the former vice presidential candidate’s school friends, family and Republican colleagues in order to try and discover “the real Sarah Palin.”
“It’s a small community that made ‘Twin Peaks’ look like a walk in the park,” the helmer says. “People were initially frightened to talk.”
Broomfield, who co-directed the doc with Joan Churchill, says that it took “quite a long time to gain people’s confidence.”
“You Betcha!” isn’t exactly the cinematic mash note to Sarah Palin that Stephen K. Bannon’s July 2011 doc “The Undefeated” was. Rather, according to Broomfield, i’ts an effort to paint a fair, complex portrait of the politician.
The helmer, who has been making films for more than 40 years, is best known for docs, but he has also ventured into the narrative realm with films such as the 2007 Iraq war saga “Battle for Haditha,” and “Ghosts” in 2006. His next fiction feature is “The Catastrophist,” based on the novel by Ronan Bennett and starring Steve Coogan, Stephen Dorff and rapper K’naan. EOne is selling the film, which will shoot in Tanzania, at Toronto.
“Making documentaries and narratives use very different parts of you, but I also think the two compliment each other. That said, I love the energy you get from doing documentaries,” he says. “They are essentially out of control. You live very much off of your wits and moment to moment.” n