×

Toronto Docs Tackle Politics and Current Affairs

It’s been close to two years since the 2016 presidential election and although a few documentaries about President Trump have been released, including Jack Bryan’s “Active Measures” and Maxim Pozdorovkin’s “Our New President,” there has yet to be a seminal film about the making of America’s 45th president.
Until TIFF 2018.

This year’s fest nonfiction lineup features a crop of powerful films from veteran doc directors that explore not only the rise of Trump, but also the people responsible for his success. People such as Steve Bannon and Roger Ailes.

“It makes sense that we’re seeing films directly reflective of the 2016 election now, two years later,” said TIFF documentary programmer Thom Powers. “I think two years is the kind of typical gestation period for filmmakers to really pull off a great documentary.”

Powers was referring to the cluster of docus that tackle and reflect upon America’s current political situation including Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9,” which examines the rise of Trump; Errol Morris’ “American Dharma,” a controversial look at Trump’s former senior adviser Steve Bannon that bowed in Venice; and Alexis Bloom’s “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes,” about the triumph and downfall of the late founder of Fox News. Magnolia Pictures has bought the North American rights to the film.

While Morris won the Oscar for his Robert McNamara doc “Fog of War,” a film he made 40 years after McNamara served as the Vietnam-era secretary of defense, the helmer said he felt compelled to make a film about Bannon after reading Michael Wolfe’s bestseller “Fire and Fury,” which came out in January.
“It seemed the right time because I really wanted to understand what was going on around me,” Morris said. “I wanted to go out and listen to what [Bannon] had to say, because I think it’s very important to try to understand what’s going on in the country. I would say that it’s beyond important. It’s essential.”

Bloom felt it essential to make a film about the mastermind behind Fox News — Ailes — after he resigned from his role as chairman and CEO of Fox in 2016. Ailes died in May 2017.

“It was obvious to me and [“Divide and Conquer” executive producer] Alex Gibney that after the 2016 election the country was going Roger’s way,” Bloom said. “He did successfully divide a nation and he was winning. It became clear to Alex and I that this was Roger’s America, so it seemed like an ideal time to start burrowing in and making the film.”

“Film programming takes place in the context of current events,” said Powers. “So you’re always aware of what people are talking about and responding to, but ultimately the films I select have to be good films. That’s a must.”

VARIETY PORTRAIT STUDIO AT TIFF

More Film

  • Nadine Labaki

    Cannes: Nadine Labaki to Head Un Certain Regard Jury

    Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki has been named president of the jury for Un Certain Regard in Cannes. The Festival said Labaki had been chosen after “moving hearts and minds at the last Festival de Cannes with her Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated ‘Capernaum,’ which won the Jury Prize.” The organizers noted Labaki’s films have all [...]

  • Osmosis

    Netflix Unveils Four More French Originals, 'Gims,' 'Anelka,' 'Move,' 'Of Earth And Blood'

    As it prepares to open a fully-staffed office in France and ramp up its investment in local originals, Netflix has unveiled three new documentaries, “Move” (working title), “Gims” (working title), and “Anelka” (working title), and the feature film “Of Earth And Blood” while at Series Mania in Lille. Announced during a panel with Netflix’s commissioning [...]

  • Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home

    Film News Roundup: Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home for Christmas'

    In today’s film news roundup, “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas” is in the works, the NFL has made a documentary about female team owners and D Street Pictures has signed Kenny Gage and Devon Downs to direct the dance feature “Move.” HOLIDAY PROJECT Miramax has acquired film rights to Lauren Iungerich’s holiday-themed screenplay “I [...]

  • Michael B. Jordan arrives at the

    Michael B. Jordan to Star in Warner Bros.' 'Methuselah' Movie

    Michael B. Jordan will produce and star in a “Methuselah” movie for Warner Bros., based on the Biblical story of a man who lived to be 969 years old. Jordan will produce through his Outlier Society production company along with Heyday’s David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford. Warner Bros. has been developing the project for many [...]

  • Davids Chief Piera Detassis on Revamping

    Davids Chief Piera Detassis on Revamping Italy's Top Film Awards

    Piera Detassis recently became the first woman to head the David di Donatello Awards, Italy’s equivalent of the Oscars. Since then she’s been busy overhauling the inner workings of the prizes that will be awarded on Wednesday. Detassis, also the editor of Italian film publication Ciak, spoke exclusively to Variety about the challenges she’s faced [...]

  • Matteo Garrone's 'Dogman' Leads Davids Awards

    Matteo Garrone's 'Dogman' Leads Davids Awards Race

    With 15 nominations Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman” leads the pack of contenders for Italy’s David di Donatello Awards in a watershed year for the country’s top film nods that sees highbrow auteur titles reaping most of the David love just as local box-office grosses hit an all-time low. Garrone’s gritty revenge drama is followed closely with [...]

  • steven spielberg Apple TV Plus

    Steven Spielberg's Apple Appearance Riles Up Social Media: 'Big Old Mixed Message'

    Many Hollywood heavyweights flocked to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters to help reveal the tech giant’s revamped steaming service Apple TV+ on Monday — but one such legend was so polarizing he became a national trending topic on Twitter for simply showing his face. Steven Spielberg was the first to appear in a dramatic short film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content