New Film Depicts Bush’s ‘Assassination’

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The New York Sun

President Bush will soon join the dubious ranks of Presidents Kennedy, Lincoln, and other slain leaders — on the silver screen, at least.

Only this “assassination” is a fictionalized, film version of the murder of America’s 43rd president will have its debut in less than two weeks at the Toronto Film Festival and to air on British television next month.

After opening with a large mob protesting outside a Chicago hotel where Mr. Bush is set to appear, “D.O.A.P.” — short for “Death of a President” — uses the cinematic assassination of Mr. Bush to scrutinize the consequences of America’s war on terror and to ask whether American officials have struck the right balance between civil liberties and national security.

“It is neither gratuitous in the way it portrays the assassination nor simplistic in the way it presents the consequences,” a spokesman for British Channel 4, Gavin Dawson, said last night. Channel 4’s subsidiary, More4 — which boasts of offering “smart films” and “big pieces of home-grown contemporary drama” — will broadcast the film next month.

Mr. Dawson said he personally considered the faux investigative retrospective “a brilliant film” and “a very powerful piece of work.”

The noir-like killing of Mr. Bush, accomplished visually with special effects, appears in publicity photos to be eerily reminiscent of Jack Ruby’s 1963 shooting of Kennedy’s assassin. Early cuts of the film show mock interviews of the press, Secret Service, and talking heads giving their evaluation of what went wrong.

Channel 4’s Mr. Dawson, who said the television network is not airing the film simply to stir up debate, also said he is not sure whether to expect a swell of criticism for airing the film. “I think we’ll get lots of criticism from people who haven’t seen the film,” he added. “I realize the central premise is shocking, and you really do need to see the film in context to get some idea of what it’s about.”

A White House spokeswoman, Emily Lawrimore, declined to comment about the 93-minute film.

“We are not commenting because it doesn’t dignify a response,” she said late yesterday afternoon.

Calls seeking comment to filmmaker Gabriel Range’s cell phone and to the production company were not returned last night.

“Death of a President” is not Mr. Range’s first entrée into mock-documentaries that bring dystopic, contentious futures into sharp focus.

In 2003, Mr. Range scripted “The Day Britain Stopped,” a film that imagines the domino-like cataclysm that would paralyze Britain if its highways and byways screeched to a halt.

Mr. Dawson said he did not want to delve into too much detail about the political tint of the film because doing so would give away the ending.

“Above all, it is a drama,” he said.


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