The True/False Film Festival, which focuses on the best in nonfiction filmmaking, took place March 3-6 in Columbia, Missouri. This week, we’ll be running a series of capsule reviews from the festival.
Anthony Weiner, the former senator from New York and 2013 candidate for New York City mayor, has long been a walking punch line in both local politics and national late-night comedy shows. Who can blame comedians for returning to the material? It’s just too easy: a rising young political star known for his passionate advocacy for progressive causes—and importantly, a grade-school double entendre for a name—gets taken down by a scandal after he accidentally posts a lurid image to his Twitter account intended for one of his young female admirers. He resigns in disgrace.
But wait! There’s more. Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is a political staffer, Hillary Clinton’s right-hand woman—Bill performed their marriage ceremony—and with her help, Weiner makes a bid at relaunching his political. It’s all going well, and he’s gaining momentum, but then another scandal erupts.
In Weiner, directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg set up the entire first act of the story through a montage of news and C-SPAN clips (along with a few comments from Weiner) before the title credits have ended. Kriegman was once Weiner’s district office chief of staff, and the level of access the politician granted to him and Steinberg is staggering. They’re in his home, his car, his office; he only asks them to leave once or twice, and it’s only at the end that Steinberg finally asks why he even let them film it at all.
The answer is that Weiner is well aware of the media circus environment, ...1