“I have a virtually unlimited ability to f*#k up things day by day”
You might be surprised to learn that the above statement is from a US Congressman. Trust me, it gets worse.
This shockingly candid insight into the tribulations of Anthony Weiner (Democrat – New York) is a masterclass in documentary filmmaking and an unparalleled treat for any political hack. I lived in DC when the scandal broke in 2011 and Congressman Weiner’s indiscretions – mistakenly tweeting a picture of a particular body part that many pundits have painstakingly pointed out bears a colloquial similarity to his name, only for details of more lurid pics to emerge, was all anyone was talking about for a while.
Squarely in the, “no, that can’t be real” category, two years after Weiner’s resignation from Congress he ran for Mayor of New York on the aspirational platform that everyone deserves a second chance, only for it to come out that he’d been messaging pictures, again, this time under the pseudonym ‘Carlos Danger.’
Defying the bounds of traditional satire, the filmmakers were granted access to the campaign on the condition that they produce promotional videos for Weiner. What followed was an unbridled and devastatingly raw insight into the most intimate parts of the campaign and most tellingly the day the later scandal broke. Sending everyone out of the room except his wife and the camera crew, it wasn’t the only time the filmmakers were present at the bizarre times you would never expect to see captured on film. Witness to one of the thickest silences you will ever see and any number of candid exchanges, the breadth of this documentary will thrill any Washington insider or West Wing fanatic.
Too a treatise on how the media interacts with politicians, the press frustratingly refuse to discuss any matter with the Congressman or his staff other than the scandal. Heavy on the mechanics of public relations and traditional spin, a hectic scramble as Weiner attempts to avoid the most tragicomic of confrontations is as laugh-out-loud hilarious as it is revealing, one of many moments captured exemplary of any number of turbulent political campaigns and their machinations.
Stressing on any campaign stop that he’s learned from his mistakes and is a man you can trust, the film itself was evidently intended as a factor in Weiner’s full mea culpa and no less so after the second scandal broke. The documentary doesn’t shy away from its own complicity; directly addressing its own prospective impact on the public perceptions surrounding Weiner and rendering itself all the better for its self-aware tone.
Funny to no end and not afraid to tackle its subject matter head on, Weiner is an uncommonly accomplished documentary as cringe-worthy as it is exceptional.
Weiner is screening at the Sydney Film Festival on Tuesday 14 June and Sunday 19 June, for tickets head to the Festival website
Glen Falkenstein on 2ser