New to DVD this week:
AMERICAN PATRIOT: INSIDE THE ARMED UPRISING AGAINST THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
Frontline (May 2017)
An exploration of the origins of the armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
While constrained to the hour length and conventional, narration-driven format of its PBS strand, Rowley does an admirable job of concisely providing essential context for the illegal actions taken by Ammon Bundy and his supporters early last year. The film details the initial confrontation between family patriarch Cliven Bundy and federal authorities at Bunkerville NV in 2014, stemming from a longstanding legal battle over the rancher’s refusal to pay fees for grazing privileges on federal land. With the potential threat of armed conflict during the standoff with Bundy, the Bureau of Land Management backed down, resulting in a perceived win for the rancher and the growth of a nascent movement of fellow ranchers and other self-proclaimed “American patriots” disillusioned with the perceived overreach of the federal government. When Cliven’s son, Ammon, the defacto leader of their extreme states rights movement, learned of federal prosecution against the Hammonds of Oregon for arson on federal land, this provided the spark that led to the seizure of Malheur to demand the release of federal lands to individual states. Perhaps most disturbing in Rowley’s film, however, is the revelation that the FBI posed as a documentary film crew to interview Bundy and others to gain access and information – an ethically troubling tactic that will likely further foment distrust of the media.