2018 Sundance Docs in Focus: OUR NEW PRESIDENT

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Maxim Pozdorovkin reveals American politics through the distinct, and decidedly warped, lens of the Russian newsmedia.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition


Sundance Program Description:

Ever since a fateful visit to a mummy’s glass-encased tomb in 1997, Hillary Clinton has been plagued by fainting spells, drug use, and even allegations of sexual abuse and murder. Don’t believe it? Just ask the reporters at Vesti and NTV, two of the most watched state-run news shows in Russia, where outlandish stories like these reach millions of viewers every night.

As more details of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election emerge, acclaimed filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin assembles a fever dream of Russian propaganda aimed at both Clinton and Trump from YouTube, RT, and other media platforms. Within this alternate universe of misinformation, we witness the seeds of the 2016 fake news cycle take root and successfully infiltrate the collective conscience of a Russian populace trained to distrust truth and objectivity.

The divisive stories peddled by these journalists, handpicked by Putin, range from sinister to absurd, but they all point to a coordinated effort to alter public opinion at home and abroad.

Some Background:

  • Maxim Pozdorovkin
    Past Sundance docs:

    PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER (2013, special jury prize)

    Pozdorovkin also made a short version of OUR NEW PRESIDENT for Field of Vision which screened at festivals including DOC NYC in 2017. He holds a PhD from Harvard for which he wrote a dissertation about Russian propaganda between 1917-1928 titled KHRONIKA: SOVIET NEWSREEL AT THE DAWN OF THE INFORMATION AGE.


  • Joe Bender
    Past Sundance docs:

    PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER (assistant editor)

    Bender also produced the short version of OUR NEW PRESIDENT.

  • Charlotte Cook
    Past Sundance docs:

    PEACE IN THE VALLEY (short) (2016, executive producer)
    SPEAKING IS DIFFICULT (short) (2016, executive producer)

    Cook, a co-founder of Field of Vision and former director of programming at Hot Docs, was an executive producer of the short version of OUR NEW PRESIDENT for Field of Vision. She also produced US Doc Competition title HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING and executive produced CRIME + PUNISHMENT.

Executive Producers:

  • Impact Partners’ Dan Cogan, Geralyn White Dreyfous, and Jenny Raskin
    Combined past recent Sundance docs:

    BENDING THE ARC (2017)
    DINA (2017)
    ICARUS (2017)
    STEP (2017)
    TROPHY (2017)
    UNREST (2017)
    AUDRIE & DAISY (2016)
    NUTS! (2016)

    Impact Films’ Co-Founder/Executive Director Cogan is also an executive producer of several fellow 2018 Sundance titles: fellow World Cinema Documentary Competition title OF FATHERS AND SONS, US Documentary Competition title BISBEE ’17, Documentary Premieres title WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR, US Dramatic Competition title THE TALE, and Premieres title THE LONG DUMB ROAD, as well as co-executive producer of US Dramatic Competition title NANCY.

    Co-Founder of both Impact Partners and Gamechanger Films, Dreyfous also executive produced 2018 Next documentary 306 HOLLYWOOD and Documentary Premieres title GENERATION WEALTH, as well as WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?, BISBEE ’17, OF FATHERS AND SONS, THE TALE, and THE LONG DUMB ROAD, and co-executive produced NANCY.

    Impact VP Raskin also executive produced BISBEE ’17 and OF FATHERS AND SONS, and co-executive produced WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR.

  • Jim Swartz and Susan Swartz
    Past Sundance docs:

    SEMBENE! (2015)
    E-TEAM (2014)
    CONNECTED (2011)
    TO CATCH A DOLLAR (2010)
    SERGIO (2009)
    SECRECY (2008)

    The technology venture capitalist and American landscape artist, respectively, are founding members of Impact Partners and longtime Park City residents.

  • David Fialkow and Nina Fialkow
    Past Sundance docs:

    CITY OF GHOSTS (2017)

    David Fialkow is the co-founder and managing director of General Catalyst, while Nina Fialkow is an Emmy-winning producer who previously worked at WGBH and whose areas of philanthropic interest include the arts and education.


  • Matvey Kulakov

    Kulakov also cut the short version of OUR NEW PRESIDENT.

Why You Should Watch:
Through masterful editing and with a wryly humorous tone, Pozdorovkin masterfully reveals how fake news has disturbingly shaped the perceptions of America in the eyes of ordinary Russians. The film premieres as one of this year’s Day One screenings.

More Info:

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

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

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