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Death of a President

Year: 2006
Production Co: Borough Films
Director: Gabriel Range
Producer: Gabriel Range/Simon Finch
Writer: Gabriel Range/Simon Finch

An inventive movie instantly dated after 2008, but still worth watching. If you don't know anything about it, Death of a President is a fake documentary investigating the 2007 assassination of George W Bush as he leaves a Chicago hotel after a business symposium.

Apart from seeing how the director and editor would get it all to hang together and seem realistic (which they do a great job of) I was just as interested in seeing if the film would take a political stance. It depicts groups of protestors converging on the streets around the hotel and the jostles with police that break out, so the film is very up front about Bush's unpopularity over Iraq.

But it doesn't seem to take a political stance. If anything it gives more airtime to the officials and cops who deal with the whole conflagration, from the police chief on duty at the time to one of Bush's advisors. All the talking heads are very well portrayed and realistic, even archive footage of people like Dick Cheney is fairly seamless. In fact there's only a single moment where it doesn't work – using footage of Cheney eulogising Ronald Regan, a voice not even remotely like Cheney's and with his lips not even close to matching up, says 'George Bush'.

But everything else is starkly plausible, from the geopolitical witch-hunt that ensues to the suspects and how they all fit in to the officially unsolved case. It's a clever use of footage and editing – the only expense would have been some costumes and actors in a studio set – and the form factor is something you've never seen before.

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