Festivals, Film, Up & Coming
Feb 4, 2020

Hillary Breaks Ground at Sundance Film Festival

With the Sundance Film Festival concluded, we are still reeling from the incredible amount of films and documentaries which premiered in 2020. Among our top film choices is Hillary Clinton’s documentary Hillary.

Photo Credit: Barbara Kinney/Hillary for America/Hulu

Hulu has nabbed a gem with the explosive look the documentary Hillary provides into the icon that is Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton opens up in the documentary about Monica Lewinsky, her marriage to Bill, and her thoughts on whether a woman can win the Presidency or not. She is also explosively cut and dry on the topic of Bernie Sanders and we quote her “Nobody wants to work with him”. Which if you have been following politics she is not wrong, Capitol Hill does not look kindly on that Presidential hopeful.

Nanette Burstein is the filmmaker who would need ample access to Hillary Clinton and Bill, as well as complete editorial control. To her relief, she was granted both by the Clintons. “The Clintons have a reputation for being controlling, but from the moment we met Hillary, we saw zero of it,” says Owens, who confirms that no subject was off-limits. Clinton would end up giving 35 hours of her time, recounting everything from her husband’s affair as president with then-intern Monica Lewinsky to election night 2016, when her own presidency eluded her grasp.

Hulu set this project into motion in in the fall of 2017 when they called Producer Howard T. Owens to hop onboard and help the company sell the international rights to the work in addition to Hulu’s grasp on its domestic debut. Owens had to meet and woo Hillary Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin, as the former head of The National Geographic Channel this was a challenge he immediately set about accepting. Hulu gave Owens alot of leeway asking only that the filmmaker be female, per Clinton’s camp. Which is how Nanette Burstein came into the picture. Nanette Burstein, is a political junkie whose résumé includes the celebrated 2002 Robert Evans documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture. Her previous work made her Owens’ top choice. After a meeting in February 2018, she became The Clinton’s, top choice as well. Burstein’s pitch was for “something much bigger than the election,” says the documentarian, who set out to explore how Clinton had become one of the country’s most admired and vilified people. Hillary delves into the many scandals and controversies that have ensnared its 72-year-old subject. Burstein has made peace with the inevitable criticism it will catch from the Clinton detractors who’ll take issue with the doc’s lack of conservative voices (with the exception of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist). It’s not, she and her producers insist, for lack of trying. Instead, they got one no after another. “We were shocked,” says Owens, who blames a toxic, polarized, political culture for the near shutout. At one point, Burstein says, she managed to track down Newt Gingrich by cellphone, he replied he’d “I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than do the interview.” If that doesn’t make you hop to the edge of your seat with anticipation for Hulu’s release of Hillary we don’t know what will.

This promises to be one of the most viewed documentaries of 2020. Politicians have been entering the “Hollywood” arena for some time now. With figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez politics are reaching new heights of celebrity as the news dominates even the entertainment news cycle.