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President Bush Mock-Shot in Chicago

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 18, 2006 4:12PM

The Secret Service does not screw around when it comes to threats on the President. Remember last year when the Secret Service paid a visit to Columbia College when they featured some artwork with an image of President Bush with a gun to his head? So it’s a safe bet that British TV director Gabriel Range will be getting a call soon about his new pseudo-documentary Death of a President.

2006_09_bush.jpgThe film was shot here in Chicago with many Chicago actors, and it purports to tell the story of the assassination of President Bush and the search for his killer, two years after it happens. During filming here, Bush visited Chicago twice, which puts even more verite into the work.

The Tribune’s Michael Phillips reviews the film here and gives it a “meh.” His view is shared by James Rocchi at Cinematical, who says the film is “loaded with too much tedium to be shocking, and watching the film's clanging, wooden attempts at political allegory or cultural analysis is cringe-inducing.” Yet the film garnered an award from the International Film Critics at last week’s Toronto Film Festival.

Outside of the vicarious thrill that many Bush-haters will receive, what’s the point of a film like this? Few would miss the point if Range used the same locations to create a story centered around a fictional president who took the country to war and tamped down on civil rights.According to Range: "If we'd have used a fictional president, audience reaction would be completely different — like watching '24' or 'The Sentinel.' This feels authentic." And by audience reaction, he means pre-release publicity.

The film will be released in theatres by Newmarket Films before year's end. Range will probably see “RESTRICTED – WASHINGTON, DC” on his caller ID before the week is out.