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Our Brand Is Crisis
Our Brand Is Crisis
Actors: Mauricio Balcazar, James Carville, Tad Devine, Stan Greenberg, Carlos Mesa
Director: Rachel Boynton
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
UR     2006     1hr 25min

A Film by Rachel BoyntonFor decades, U.S. strategists-for-hire have been quietly molding the opinions of voters and the messages of candidates in elections from the Middle East to the South American jungle. Our Brand is Cr...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Mauricio Balcazar, James Carville, Tad Devine, Stan Greenberg, Carlos Mesa
Director: Rachel Boynton
Creators: Rachel Boynton, Erin Nesbit, Jeffrey Zumeta Seelbach, Robert Kravis, Sanders Goodstein, Steven Shainberg
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Politics
Studio: KOCH LORBER FILMS
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/05/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

It's about the art of political campaigning and the spreadin
Amazon customer | 12/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This documentary traces the re-election campaign of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (Goni), which was largely run by paid, American political consultants. Their challenge: to get their candidate re-elected even though as president his highly unpopular free-market policies had done nothing to alleviate the extreme poverty and unemployment the country was facing, and even though he was perceived as an arrogant, elitist, fair-skinned, American-raised "gringo" who was out of touch with the poor, indigenous majority of Bolivia.

Despite all these obstacles, we see how the consultants were able to use polls, focus groups, negative attack campaigns and advertisements to successfully market their candidate (Noam Chomsky always talks about how political campaigns are like selling toothpaste; here we see a perfect example). They also benefited from a political system in which a candidate could win with a plurality of the vote: the vote ended up being divided between three main candidates, allowing Goni to win with only 22% of the popular vote.

However, as Goni continued to implement unpopular policies even after the election, the Bolivian people took to the streets en masse to demand his ouster. Goni fled to the U.S., where he now resides, while his vice president took over until the next election in which the indigenous, left-wing candidate Evo Morales came to power with an overwhelming majority of the vote.

What I found most amazing was how little the paid, American political consultants knew about the policies that "their" candidate was implementing and how adversely they were affecting the people. Knowing that he was the "free-market" candidate (a supporter of the so-called "Washington consensus"), was enough to convince them to work for his re-election; and these are the people who represent the "left" in the U.S. (James Carville and the like). It was also shocking and disappointing to see how easily people are manipulated (i.e., Goni is not faring well in the polls so the political consultants run some ads discrediting his opponent and re-inventing Goni's image; the next focus groups and polls show that it has had the desired effect: people now like Goni better than his opponent). People always say they know political ads are bogus, but yet they clearly work each and every time. One questions the viability of "real democracy" when so many people are so easily manipulated.

Personally I would have liked to see more information about the mass protests that ousted Goni and brought about the rise to power of Evo Morales. But, I suppose that would really be another documentary. Still, this one is worth watching."
It's about US!
Timothy P. Scanlon | Hyattsville, MDUSA | 06/28/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"While I consider myself better informed than average on Central and South American politics, I didn't know that much about the elections of the early 2000s in Bolivia. I have asserted that the leftward swing there of the last few years was because of the way we Yanks have treated those countries. So true.

But I realized while watching this gem that the issue addressed by the film is as much about us as it is about those other countries!

As others have pointed out, Greenberg, Carville and Schrum, a well-known Washington political consulting (classy way of saying PR) firm was hired by Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada--aka Goni--to get him elected president of Bolivia. He'd been brought up in the United States--suburban Washington, DC, while his father was exiled. He'd been president of Bolivia for a term in the 1990s, had, according to the film, set up some social programs, e.g., Social Security, and had provided some reforms to education. But he had also "capitalized." That term wasn't really defined until toward the end of the film when I believe the word used was "privatized."

Well, GCS did what such a consultant does here in the US: They had their pollsters following Bolivian trends, gave one-liners and effective rhetoric to Goni, set up countless "focus groups," instituted negative campaigning, e.g., made Goni's opponents look like budding fascists, or out of touch with reality--something that's become commonplace here in the US. In short, they avoided facing any issues, those which make democracy work--again, something of which many in the US know pathetically little.

Indeed, Goni's opponents were far more populist than Goni was. The people--you know, those pests who tend to get on the nerves of our fearless political elites--were demanding constitutional change, even representation. Goni ignored those issues, while his consultants advised him to stick to his principals, what he believed was better for the company.

Well, to make a long story short, after 14 months and lots of demonstrations, and deaths of demonstrators, Goni was forced to resign where he became a neighbor of mine here in the DC area. Probably the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back was his sale of the country's natural gas reserves with no input from the people of his country. His VP tried to take a more moderate approach, but was also forced to resign when he couldn't find a happy medium to meet the people's nees and those of foreign investors. So eventually one of Goni's opponents, whose name escapes me now, was elected as Bolivia's first indigenous president.

The film focused on Goni's not having a majority--he got about 22 percent of the vote while his opponents each got about 21 percent--as the source of the problem. But I argue that the major problem rather was that the election relied in image and superficial message--the standard tactics of public relations--rather than political issues, again, that which makes democracy what it is! And that I blame on GCS! (Indeed, I had more respect for James Carville before seeing the film than I did after.) Carville and his associates spent the last 10 minutes of the film trying to rationalize the disaster that Bolivia became, and the reinforces my belief that the disaster was more their fault, based on the angles they took, than that of anything else.

And our "democracy" is obviously failing for the same reason: too many not voting on issues but on one liners, slogans, PR campaigns as much negative as positive. So while jobs are disappearing--as they had in Bolivia--people are talking about Rev. Wright, gay marriage, and whatever devil terms can be created to distract us from what really happens.

Shame on those who've reduced campaigns to that level, whether hired by the GOP or Democrats. All your rationalizing isn't going to make your actions any more ethical.

"
"Director Rachel Boynton & James Carville ... Our Brand Is C
J. Lovins | Missouri-USA | 09/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Koch Lorber Films and Films Transit International present - Our Brand Is Crisis (2005) (87 mins/Color) - Director Rachel Boynton features an astounding look through this documentary at one of their campaigns and its dramatic aftermath ... The filmmaker follows a crack team of Democratic political consultants, including James Carville, Tad Devine and Jeremy Rosner as they strategize for a struggling presidential candidate in Bolivia ... behind the turbulent re-election campaign of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada ("Goni") --- In a country facing a calamitous economic crisis, Goni - a wealthy businessman who privatized Bolivia's economy and created social security (when he was president in the mid-`90s) - isn't the popular candidate ... here is a shocking example of how U.S. marketing strategiest can affect the spreading of "our brand of democracy" overseas --- at times this can be absurdly funny, sometimes horrifying, frequently revelatory documentary that clearly ventures into an important new territory --- as we witness U.S. strategists for hire influencing the opinions of voters in elections around the world --- Boynton's directorial debut, was shown at New Directors/New Films, presented by the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center in 2005 --- winner of International Documentary Assoc. "Best Documentary Feature" and winner of Full Frame Documentary Festival "Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award" --- a food for thought film as we're in for high stakes for re-election and strategy on this political campaign heading on the campaign trail, at times very gritty and matter of fact ... "OUR BRAND IS CRISIS".

BONUS FEATURE:
1. Commentary with Director Rachel Boynton
2. Original Trailer

Great job by Koch Lorber Films for releasing "Our Brand Is Crisis" (2005) Director: Rachel Boynton, the digital transfere with a clean, clear and crisp print...looking forward to more high quality releases from the foreign film market --- order your copy now from Amazon or Koch Lorber Films where there are plenty of copies available on DVD, stay tuned once again for top notch reporting with an outstanding documentary on events worldwide.

Total Time: 87 mins on DVD ~ Koch Lorber Films KLF3092 ~ (8/08/2006)"
Fantastic and courageous film!
Sarah Greenough | MA | 11/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"What a shocking image of how powerful political consultants can be when they decide to spread American democracy to other countries. Provocative film!"