Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Indiewire logo

Lefty Filmmakers Grapple with Left-Wing Backlash

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik June 12, 2013 at 1:28PM

The left-wing sectarian debates fuming over Alex Gibney's "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks," well-assembled and dissected by Andrew O'Hehir at Salon.com, is also taking place around "Pandora's Promise," Robert Stone's equally controversial and reasonably argued film about the benefits of nuclear power. Jeremy Scahill has also said he's receiving more hate-mail from liberals because of his criticisms of Obama in "Dirty Wars." Why so little love?
4

The left-wing sectarian debates fuming over Alex Gibney's "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks," well-assembled and dissected by Andrew O'Hehir at Salon.com, is also taking place around "Pandora's Promise," Robert Stone's equally controversial and reasonably argued film about the benefits of nuclear power. Jeremy Scahill has also said he's receiving more hate-mail from liberals because of his criticisms of Obama in "Dirty Wars." Why so little love?

Pandora's Promise
Pandora's Promise

Coming into both Gibney and Stone's subjects with little outside expert knowledge, I found both films to be engaging and well-researched accounts of their respective material. Even as a die-hard lefty, I bought all of these movies, despite the fact that some of their positions run counter to traditional liberal views. (After Sundance, I wrote a piece for Slate called "Will the Next Wave of Anti-Obama Movies Be Made by Liberals?" which also speaks to some of these issues.)

I think one of the reasons I like these films is that they are complex in their approaches. The fact that they are not preaching to the converted is one of the best things about them. In my Docutopia column this week, I single out "Pandora's Promise" for eschewing heave-handed agitprop to explore an issue with ambiguity. We should applaud these nuanced approaches, whether it's Gibney taking to task both the U.S. government and Julian Assange for the secrets they keep, Scahill calling out both the Bush and Obama administrations, or Stone suggesting that nuclear power, however dangerous it may have been, has also been unfairly demonized on several accounts. If you want good guys vs. bad guys, go see "Man of Steel." But strong documentaries should present ambivalence and moral complexity and wrongdoing on all sides of the political divide.

While the attacks against Gibney and his film have been well-documented, by O'Hehir and others (and I can certainly confirm them, as even I was blasted on Twitter for my favorable piece on "We Steal Secrets"), the backlash against "Pandora's Promise" is just beginning.

In one such paper titled "Pandora's False Promise," published for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, executive director Kennette Benedict writes, "A more powerful approach to this complex threat to humanity would be to film a fact-based, passionate debate that explored the alternatives, trade-offs, and consequences of various energy options. Such an exploration might move us from the usual politics of zealotry to new habits of thought, and perhaps to new forms of action based on all the facts."

But what's funny to me is that this is exactly what I found "Pandora's Promise" to be.


This article is related to: Alex Gibney, Robert Stone, Dirty Wars

Follow us

E-Mail Updates



Recent Comments

By Bob Connors: The thing to remember is the video has some actual data but it's conclusions are far fetched and inaccurate. This is a Progressive propaghand…

Who is "Politizane" and What's Next for the Income Inequality Viral Video

Mar 21th, 2015 8:47am

By Ostlee: This makes very sad reading - i feel for the people of Maldives. Everyone should boycott the island as a holiday destination until Nasheed…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 13th, 2015 5:35pm

By Ahmed Shahid: Release the first democratically elected president. The only president of Maldives who has reached the people of Maldives, heard them and…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 12th, 2015 9:37am

By Hanne Neve: Please take care of your country and the climate by freeing your real selektet president.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 11th, 2015 9:09am

By Iqbal: Please release President Nasheed

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 10:27pm

By Martha Robertson: I strongly urge the immediate release of Nasheed!

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 9:37pm

By Ned Rollins: Bad business, going to bite you.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 3:47pm

By John Painter: The guy isnt a terrorist.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 12:00pm

By Sofia Vera: I support Presdient Nasheed and add my name to this letter of support for his release.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 11:14am

By Margarett R Mulkey: A civilized society is required of the current government of the Maldives. The world is watching injustice and crimes, and many realized thes…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 10:53am