Search Museum of the Moving Image

On the Campaign Trail: Documentaries and Mockumentaries

Jul 16 — Jul 24, 2016

There are few spectacles more dramatic and public than a presidential campaign. Yet behind the public facade, the real theater often takes place during stolen moments, when under-pressure candidates drift off message, and when meticulously maintained facades crumble into candid gaffe-filled moments. The observational documentary mode, in which filmmakers are present to witness these stolen moments, has also become a popular fictional strategy—copying a documentary style in order to satirize reality. From documentaries like AJ Schnack’s Caucus to mockumentaries like Robert Altman’s Tanner ‘88, most of the films in this series place the viewer directly in the moment, where canned political messaging explodes into a more honest mess. Shown before this year’s Republican and Democratic conventions, these films will resonate in many ways with this year’s memorable election.