An explosive, feature-length documentary hitting an expanded roster of theaters nationwide on May 17 offers a captivating look at the larger-than-life personality of the late Andrew Breitbart – a controversial new media pioneer whom the left vilified and the right hailed as an American hero.
Coming more than a year after the sudden and mysterious death of the crusading 43-year-old journalist, the film Hating Breitbart was initially screened in a few theaters in October shortly before the presidential election, but is expanding to 10 markets nationwide on Wednesday, along with the film’s simultaneous release on DVD and video-on-demand.
The documentary follows Breitbart, a former contributor at the Drudge Report who was “working behind the scenes . . . during the Monica Lewinsky scandal” and later helped launch The Huffington Post, in the years leading up to the 2012 presidential election — a time when the conservative provocateur became a champion of the Tea Party movement and a thorn in the side of the liberal establishment and mainstream media.
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“The majority of the country believes freedom and liberty are being held back by the most powerful, potent force that we know in the modern age and that is the media,” Breitbart says in the film during a Tea Party rally. “And what we are starting today isn’t just pushing back against government; it’s pushing back against the media.”
Larry Solov, the chief executive officer and president of Breitbart News Network, told Newsmax that his lifelong friend and business partner helped to fundamentally change the media landscape by using the Internet to help “democratize the news in this country” and level “the playing field for conservatives.” Solov and Breitbart launched a string of websites in 2005, including Breitbart.com, BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com, BigJournalism.com and Breitbart.tv, which are now consolidated under the Breitbart News Network.
“I think he was also instrumental in breaking down in the American public consciousness the false notion that the news we’ve been getting year after year is objective,” Solov says.
Chronicling his expose of ACORN and former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal, the film tells the story of how one man with a website — originally launched out of the basement of his Brentwood, Calif. home — helped upend the traditional media and changed “the ground rules for political journalism.”
“In short, the film is about the rise of the new media and Andrew Breitbart’s battles therein,” says Andrew Marcus, the film’s writer and director. “Andrew Breitbart was really the first person who came along and harnessed this new manifestation known as citizen media, or citizen journalism, and it happened at . . . such a dramatic political period — both for Andrew and the conservative movement.”
The film follows the journey of this “one-man wrecking ball” onto the national stage in 2009 when he first published hidden-camera videos showing a purported pimp and prostitute visiting offices of the community organizing group ACORN looking for assistance. In the videos, some ACORN employees appeared to engage in “inappropriate behavior,” but a subsequent Government Accountability Office report cleared ACORN of any illegal activities.
The documentary also follows Breitbart as he becomes a celebrated speaker at Tea Party events and the controversy surrounding his publishing of photos connected to the Weiner sexting scandal.
Marcus says he was nearly finished with post-production when Breitbart died of a heart attack on March 2, 2012. As a result, the film doesn’t include portions about Breitbart’s death. Marcus says Breitbart, who he knew had a “terrible heart condition,” had already seen the film.
“I just sort of felt I had to honor what he saw,” Marcus said.
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