2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: WEINER

weinerBringing this year’s Sundance US Documentary Competition preview to a close: WEINER, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s in-the-moment chronicle of a politician’s ill-fated return.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

Many politicians have seen their careers careen off the tracks, but few instances have been captured so completely on film as the incisive and painfully funny WEINER. With unprecedented access to Anthony Weiner, his family, and his campaign team as they mount his New York City mayoral campaign, the film documents the impending political meltdown of epic proportions. What begins as an unexpected comeback from a disgraced ex-congressman takes a sharp turn once Weiner is forced to admit to new sexting allegations. As the media descends and rips apart his every move, Weiner tries desperately to forge ahead, but the increasing pressure and crippling 24-hour news coverage halts his political aspirations dead in their tracks.

WEINER deftly teeters the line between political farce and personal tragedy, exposing the ex-congressman’s hubris while highlighting the sheer ugliness of the media’s takedown of his family. With the city of New York as a loud and bustling backdrop, this documentary charges through an increasingly baffling political campaign with unflinching clarity, humor, and pathos.

Some Background:
Directors/Producers: Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg
Kriegman and Steinberg are partners in Edgeline Films. This marks the first feature doc for Kriegman, who has produced for MTV’s MADE series and has a background as a political consultant and campaign advisor. This is Steinberg’s second doc feature after producing for television networks such as PBS, A&E, and MTV.

Co-Producers: Elizabeth Delaune Warren and Sean McGing
Warren and McGing are also part of the Brooklyn-based Edgeline Films. After numerous credits on doc shorts, this is their first doc feature.

Executive Producers: Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn, and Lily Fan; Co-Executive Producers: James Rees, Hilary Verbuch, and Barbara Delaune Warren
Goldman, Clements, and Hepburn represent Motto Pictures, and are also in Park City with LIFE, ANIMATED. Among their recent Sundance alumni credits are last year’s BEST OF ENEMIES and 3 1/2 MINUTES, TEN BULLETS, as well as WE ARE THE GIANT (2014), MANHUNT (2013), GIDEON’S ARMY (2013), and GOD LOVES UGANDA (2013). This marks theatre producer Fan’s second documentary feature project as an executive producer.

Editor: Eli Despres
Despres previously cut the influential Oscar-shortlisted Sundance alum BLACKFISH (2013).

Why You Should Watch:
Kriegman and Steinberg’s curious film becomes progressively more fascinating as their surprisingly candid subject closes in on his pre-destined comeuppance. At the same time, the audience’s trainwreck schadenfreude gives way to genuine empathy, particularly whenever the viewer considers the situation of Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, caught between supporting her embattled husband and trying to remain outside of the media’s crosshairs and the resultant collateral damage it could cause to her own career.

More Info:
Sundance’s Meet the Artists

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2016 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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