Opportunity Knocks, Bannon Answers

“This is the way you make a statement.”  So opened The Brink, the tenth film and season finale in Pure Nonfiction’s 2019 Winter Season.  The film focuses on Steve Bannon, one of the most polarizing and divisive characters in today’s political landscape.  The film follows a year in the life of Bannon as he attempts to unite both the U.S. and Europe under his “nationalist populist” agenda.

The film opens in Fall 2017, shortly after Bannon resigns from the Trump administration, remarking, “The White House, there’s no glamour to that job. I hated every minute of it.”  As Bannon’s other U.S.-based initiatives start to unravel - he loses his position at Breitbart News, his financial backer Rebekah Mercer pulls out - he turns his attention overseas, exclaiming “I’m on a mission to convert as many people to the populist cause.”  Once he arrives in Europe, he jumps from country to country, staging meetings with the world’s emerging populist leaders, his bluster on full display. He tells these leaders “I’m about one thing. I’m about winning.” and proclaims “If I would have not come in as the CEO of the Trump campaign, he would not have won.”  Near the end of the film, however, Bannon returns to the U.S. for the 2018 midterm elections, no longer brimming with confidence. “I had a great feeling in ‘16. I knew we had it. I don’t have that feeling now.” The film ends with Bannon’s ultimate thesis, and the reason he continues down this divisive path. “This is a global revolution and I’m lucky to be the vanguard.  It’s something worth dedicating your life to.”

Director Alison Klayman and producer Marie Therese Guirgis both had Bannon’s thesis in mind while making of the film, and added their comments in the Q&A after the film.  Guirgis had worked with Bannon in the past, saying “He was horrible, but he also was good to me, or at least saw my potential and gave me some freedom and some power to grow professionally.”  Guirgis also believed it was important for Klayman to form her own opinion, and Klayman agreed. “My one stipulation what that I needed to meet him and see what he’s like…. could he carry a film?”  Ultimately, both believed he could, and they also believed it was important to make an honest film. “It’s very fair, which was also important to me,” Guirgis remarked. “Not just because it was about him, but I really believe that we are living in a moment where there’s no gray area, everything’s black and white and you want to see people in one way.”  Klayman structured the film to evoke that exact sense of nuance, ultimately giving Bannon an intimate and equitable portrayal. “The order in which you put things can say a lot… I think you can invite the audience to think about things just based on what choices are made and what you include in the film.” Guirgis echoed this sentiment, saying “I think that what Alison really smartly did was really let him kind of expose himself for who he is...and I think for him it’s probably one of the first times that he’s being written about and talked about in a way that is actually demeaning.”

The Brink opens in cinemas on Friday, March 29th.  More information on the film and showtimes in your area can be found at https://www.thebrinkfilm.com.