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Move over Michael Moore, here comes ‘TEA PARTY'

Move over Michael Moore, here comes ‘TEA PARTY: The Documentary’

by Bill Berkowitz


On Monday, November 23, producers and sponsors of a Tea Party film they hope will re-energize the movement, will hold a ‘Cinematic Sneak Peek’ via a live webcast.

“It began as a ripple; an online whisper; a grassroots awakening to a new threat on freedom. … Lady Liberty faces her newest challenge and across this great nation a new generation of patriots stands ready for her defense. … They were ignored, they were mocked, but in the end, they would not be silence. … A greater cause united them. … A greater outcome awaits them. … This Thanksgiving the story of 2009 becomes the living history of the second American Revolution. ‘TEA PARTY: The Documentary’ film; liberty’s march has a new generation of patriots.” – From the trailer for “TEA PARTY: The Documentary Film”

There are no plans for a theatrical release, and it’s unlikely that its DVD sales will be “Fahrenheit 9/11-like, nevertheless, Tea Party organizers are trying to build buzz with a new film about the movement. If you weren’t at any of the rallies, town hall meetings, and/or marches -- where thousands (of mostly white people) gathered -- or you didn’t catch the play-by-play on the Fox News Channel, you will soon have the opportunity to catch up with the Tea Party movement.

At 2 P.M. on Monday, November 23, “TEA PARTY: The Documentary Film,” will be having a “Cinematic Sneak Peek” via a live webcast. Sponsors of the webcast are FreedomWorks Foundation, Human Events, the conservative weekly, and RS:Redstate, a well-known conservative blog. Appearing at the webcast will be Luke Livingston, the founder of Ground Floor Video, one of key players in pulling the film project together, FreedomWorks’ Chairman Dick Armey, FreedomWorks’ president Matt Kibbe and Erick Erickson, managing editor of (You can view the trailer @

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A Press Release -- posted at and titled “’TEA PARTY’ Movie Inspires Next Steps for Conservative Movement with 200 Cinematic Tea Parties Nationwide” -- pointed out that with Republican Party victories in the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, “and the thousands of tea party goers rallying at the Nation’s Capital and Congressional House District offices around the country” in early November, “the tea party movement is proving its staying power as a political force.”

Now, “the tea party movement is looking toward the ‘next step.’ inspired by over 200 ‘cinematic tea party town halls’ scheduled around the country in November in conjunction with ‘sneak peeks’ of the forthcoming ‘TEA PARTY: The Documentary Film.’”

The press release – in what might be a bit of overstatement – maintained that the documentary “has quickly become one of the largest grassroots championed projects of its kind in recent history.” The sneak peek portion of the film “is being used by over 200 local organizations around the nation to generate town hall discussions about the principles of the movement and what comes next for the millions who have been involved in the year long process.”

The documentary appears to have a lot of explaining to do: Given the overtly racist sentiments expressed on many of the signs carried by Tea Partiers since the advent of the movement, and the nearly all-white makeup of the crowds, the press release claimed that the documentary will deal with the “allegations of racism.” The film will also talk about “political partisanship, key issues like healthcare and spending, direct acts of terrorism leveled against some groups, debates over crowd size and whether the movement is truly grassroots driven or funded by large special interests.”

The 'TEA PARTY' documentary is a production of the Woodstock, Georgia-based (a suburb of Atlanta) Ground Floor Video (GFV), in association with Riddled with Bullets Films, and the Mableton, Georgia-based Convergence Entertainment, LLC, Convergence has produced a slide show titled “Next Steps Training Presentation” ( which is devoted to “Re-Discovering Our National Identity” through examining the Declaration of Independence. As of November 20, the slide show that has been viewed slightly over 300 times.

Livingston, who produced a short film on Atlanta’s April 15 Tea Party, “assembled a group of local filmmakers who had been chronicling the tea party story since its early stages. The team began gathering video from groups around the country and coordinating to shoot the majority of the footage with behind the scenes access at a number of the larger events including the 9-12 March on Washington. Livingston pointed out that "The people attending the tea parties deserve to have their story told in an honest, inspiring way that gets to the heart of what moves conservatives to action." Producer Jessica Levai says, "This movement transcends race and gender barriers."

"There is a lot more to the Tea Party movement than what you may have heard. Our film explores why ordinary people have been moved to action from a 'behind-the-scenes' point of view," Livingston said.
"This is a political thriller and an inspiring American story that is at the heart of the times we are living in as a nation. It will challenge you as few stories can,” noted Foster.

The film is directed by Atlanta’s Pritchett Cotton and written by Joel Aaron Foster. It will be released on DVD on Thanksgiving. Pre-orders are available through Nov. 21 at at the discounted price of $18.95 with free shipping.

Via e-mail, I asked Joel Aaron Foster about the financing and plans for the film, its goals, and what he felt about the work of award-winning filmmaker, Michael Moore.

Bill Berkowitz: How long a film is it and how long did it take you to produce?

Joel Aaron Foster: The Full length will be about 100-105 minutes; 2,000+ hours to produce counting principal shooting/editing cumulatively from the crew; ‘the film began production in mid July.

BB: How do you intend to use the film?

JAF: The film is available for purchase at [T]he [film] tell[s] the real story of the tea party movement from the perspective of 5 grassroots individuals that represent a cross section of those involved in the movement. [I]t is created to inspire further discussion within the movement about the principles behind the rallies and as a resource to introduce the true nature of the movement to those on the outside looking in and trying to understand it.

BB: Will it be shown in theaters?

JAF: It will not be shown in theatres; it is direct to DVD and begins shipping Thanksgiving Day. There are no scheduled public screenings except with the written permission from the film company and license holder, Ground Floor Video. There is at least one public screening, the film premiere at the Reagan Center in Washington DC on Dec 2. (see for details).

BB: How was TEA PARTY financed?

JAF: The financing was fronted by Luke Livingston and Ground Floor Video itself and through limited donations from individuals within the movement. The film crew is working on a speculative basis.

BB: Do you have plans for other similar films?

JAF: Not at this point

BB: How would you compare your efforts to those of Michael Moore or other documentary filmmakers?

JAF: From a purely storytelling framework, Michael Moore is a propagandist in that he employs a model of point/counterpoint. This film is more a documentary of what moved the characters to action, what the themes are in the movement, how it began and how it is continuing? From a technical standpoint, I am confident that the finished product will be comparable to Michael Moore's production values. The film is not narrative driven as much of Mr. Moore's films are, where Moore himself provides a monologue perspective that drives the story. Here, there is no narrative from an outsider; the story is told through the interviews with key players in the tea party movement and by the grassroots activists who are profiled.

In a follow-up e-mail I asked a few more question including: “Many Tea Party critics have alleged that this is a movement tinged by racism, maintaining that some of the signs that are carried at the demos cross the line. At the rallies there are a small number of African Americans and even a lesser number of Latinos in attendance. How do you respond to these perceptions?” At press time, Foster had not yet responded.

Cross posted from:


Bill Berkowitz is a widely published journalist and regular contributor to BuzzFlash.

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