Here's a real shocker from the world of entertainment, populated as it is by the tolerant, the promoters of diversity, the open-minded. Like Robert Redford, for instance.
Over the years, Sundance has been famously friendly to eco-themed docs, providing high-profile premieres for films such as “An Inconvenient Truth” and “The Cove,” as well as political hot potatoes like “Why We Fight” and “8: The Mormon Proposition” (about gay marriage). Among fests, Sundance is hardly alone in offering a platform to left-leaning docs. Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, while Alex Gibney’s “Taxi to the Dark Side” is just one of many lefty Tribeca offerings.http://variety.com/2014/film/spotlight/right-wing-docs-dont-feel-the-fest-love-1201061557/
By contrast, “2016: Obama’s America” co-directors Dinesh D’Souza and John Sullivan avoided the U.S. fest circuit altogether in favor of tapping into their own constituency — and it doesn’t seem to have hurt the film in the slightest. A politically conservative adaptation of the anti-Obama book, “2016” earned more than $33 million, making it the second-highest-grossing political doc after “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
For most nonfiction pics, however, the fest circuit is a vital component of a film’s life cycle, which is why businessman-turned-documaker Dennis Michael Lynch submitted his film “They Come to America” to nearly 30 U.S. festivals, including Sundance, Tribeca and Silverdocs, to no avail. He contends the film was rejected by programmers around the country on the basis of his conservative stance on immigration, as opposed to the film’s quality. Lynch went on to self-distribute and decided not to “waste a dime on festivals” when it came to the release of ‘They Come to America II.’ ”
On the other hand, the cinema verite-style “Caucus,” about the 2012 Iowa Republican caucus, was accepted into such established fests as HotDocs and AFI Docs last year, although helmer A.J. Schnack admits it was a hard sell.
“It’s no secret that in terms of documentaries, film festivals tend to skew more toward liberal or progressive subjects,” Schnack says. “I had one (programmer) tell me they couldn’t stand the sight of the people in (‘Caucus’). I took them at their word that that was why they weren’t screening the film. I’m sure that’s not the only case where that happened.”