Film depicts `assassination' of Bush, draws controversy

September 03, 2006|By Tina Daunt | Tina Daunt,Los Angeles Times

A new film mixing archival footage and computer-generated special effects to portray the fictional assassination of President George W. Bush will premiere Sept. 10 at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival - and is already kicking off a firestorm of controversy.

British filmmaker Gabriel Range said Death of a President - which is done in a documentary style that has been described as eerily real - is intended to be a thought-provoking critique of the current political landscape.

"It's a striking premise," Range conceded in a statement. "But it's a serious film which I hope will open up the debate on where current U.S. foreign and domestic polices are taking us."

In the film, President Bush prepares to deliver a speech to business leaders in Chicago, where he is confronted by a massive antiwar demonstration.

Unperturbed, Bush goes ahead with the visit, but as he leaves the venue, he is gunned down by a sniper.

While the nation mourns, the hunt for his killer - a Syrian-born gunman - swings into action. Range said he reviewed hundreds of hours of footage of Bush to make the film as realistic as possible.

A call to the White House for comment was not immediately returned. Festival officials were unavailable for comment last week, but festival director Noah Cowan praised the film in a posting on the festival's Web site: "This is easily the most dangerous and breathtakingly original film I have encountered this year."

And it may be the year's most hotly debated film as well: The public relations firm representing the movie has been flooded with calls from media around the globe, and blogs are already lighting up with debate about the appropriateness of the subject matter.

Tina Daunt writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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