The publicity around Death Of A President is much better than the film itself, and this is what’s generating the latest buzz: it’s an ad for the faux-documentary that both our national newspapers declined to run. According to an article in today’s Star, a modified version of the ad will run in that paper which will clearly indicate that it’s a theatrical release. CanWest says that their ten other major dailies also rejected the ad. The Globe has yet to make an official comment, but the ad is allegedly against their editorial policy.
The film stirred-up strong reactions when it played in the UK and most recently in Toronto, where it won the International Critics Prize at TIFF. Centering on the fictionalized assassination of George W. Bush, the flick is structured as a typical PBS-type documentary, with talking heads, Photoshopped news photos and staged archival footage. The style is extremely well-executed but the concept is stretched thin over feature length. It also isn’t even remotely anti-Bush as it’s been consistently charged (primarily by those who haven’t seen it). In fact, it’s taking the middle ground that makes Death Of A President less brazen than it would seem.
Nevertheless, the concept is audacious and virtually publicizes itself. Following in the footsteps of films like The Last Temptation Of Christ, The Da Vinci Code and United 93, the degree of pre-release outrage should prove to be mostly unfounded. It should also make Death Of A President a minor hit.
As for running the ad, the question is not only whether or not it’s inflammatory or in poor taste, but if a hard news publication should publish what intentionally looks like the President’s obituary. We’d rather see the end of that ridiculous acronym.
Death Of A President opens in theatres on October 27.