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Robin Menken


Robin Menken is a regular contributor of filmfestivals covering the festival scene from Los Angeles.


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24th Annual Dances With Films Festival by Robin Menken

 
Dances With Films, LA's independent film festival ran from August 26 to September 12 at the TCL Chinese Theatres.
 
Founded by Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent, Dances With Films has been recognized by USA TODAY readers as a TOP 10 North American Film Festival and has repeatedly hit the TOP 10 on FilmFreeway's Review List of more than 8,000 film festivals worldwide. 
 
The entertaining "Voodoo Macbeth", produced by a collective of USC film students (8 writers and 10 directing students) under the supervision of John Watson (known for producing Hollywood films like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Tank Girl, Outer Limits and Backdraft) is remarkable for what it achieves on its tiny budget.
 
Cast with USC studenti and funded by a grant from Warner Brothers, the film features beautiful production values, somewhat flat cinematography and a script that covers melodramatic moments in the troubled gestation of this provocative landmark production.
 
In under two hours, it covers casting, rehearsals, loss of cast members, a covert gay romance, Welles' collapsing marriage, violent Harlem demonstrations and a sneaky attack on the production by a Right Wing Congressman, as well as diverting scenes devoted to theater superstitions.
 
Facts have been changed and events collapsed in time or invented  to heighten melodrama, but the script tone seems consistent, even with a huge team of writers.
 
A few minutes of the original production exist online and the film's play within a film hews to Welles' and Rose McClendon's original vision.
 
Jewell Wilson Bridge gives a game, witty performance as Orson Welles but he's hampered with everyone's memory of Orson Well's unique stage presence ; Welles' towering physique, rumbling voice and soulful eyes. Once I adjusted I enjoyed the film immensely.
 
Inger Tudor is terrific as Rose McClendon, the director of the Negro People's Theatre in Harlem, who went on to
launch 10 national units (as well as New York) of the  Negro Theatre Unit of the Federal Theatre Project before her untimely death of pleurisy in 1936. 
 
Rose McClendon, one of the few African Americans working on Broadway in the 20's and 30's. appeared in The House of Connelly, the first production by the Group Theatre, directed by Lee Strasberg (1931).
 
In 1935 McClenden co-founded the Negro People's Theatre in Harlem, which inspired the Negro Theatre Unit of the Federal Theatre Project, created under McClendon's supervision. The Federal Theatre Project was charged with creating employment for theatre workers during the Depression.
 
McClenden selected John Houseman, fresh from a stint as manager of the all black production of Four Saints In Three Acts, to co head the two branches of the Unit (Contemporary and Classical.) 
 
Houseman convinced wunderkind 20-year-old Orson Welles, then a well-paid radio announcer, to direct the production. The fate of the Classical unit lay on Welles' hands. 
 
Welles turns him down, but, after actress wife Virginia Nicholson Welles (June Schreiner) suggests placing Macbeth in Haiti and using Voodoo priestesses as the three witches, Welles becomes avid to direct, setting "the" Scottish play" in a Haitian jungle during the Napoleonic period reign of slave-turned-emperor Henri Christophe.
 
Unable to find many Shakespearean trained African American actors, Welles cast amateurs- hustlers, boxers, poets, even singers. (Welles later claimed this cast understood iambic pentameter better than many trained Shakespearean actors.) Welles brow-beats his amateur cast and McClendon reigns him in.
 
In a nice piece of writing, when McClendon calls Welles a petulant child, he counters," Petulant, perhaps, but a child...when your mother dies young, your childhood dies with her."
 
The featured cast give strong performances, notably June Schreiner (Virginia Welles), Jeremy Tardy (Maurice), Wrekless Watson (playing the fictional Cuba Johnson standing in for Canada Lee), Gary McDonald (Jack Carter), Ashli Haynes (Edna Thomas), Daniel Kuhlman (John Houseman), Ephraim López (Juano Hernandez, Ben Shields (Percy Hammond, and Dolores Yanez (Juano's Wife.)
 
When Rose McClendon demands a black crew, Welles sacrifices his wife -producer Virginia Nicholson to retain master costume/stage designer Zurich born Chicagoan Nat Karson (who also designed Hot Mikada, sections of the 1939 Worlds Fair and served as art director for Radio City Music Hall from 36-43-succeeding another Chicagoan- Vincent Minelli- who left to direct on Broadway.) 
 
But that marriage-rocking sacrifice is not enough to head off local Harlem protesters who block Harlem's Lafayette Theatre. 
 
Hunter Bodine plays slimy foil Congressman Martin Dies
(Dies, a second generation Texas Democrat went on to co-start and chair the Special Committee to Investigate Un-American Activities (1938-1944), nicknamed the Dies Committee, before becoming HUAC in 1946.)
 
At a personal preview of the play, Dies determines to shut down this "Un-American, Communist" production at all cost, and, upon meeting Shakespearean Puerto Rican actor Juan Hernandez (he declines to shake hands with the negro actors), decides to report him to Immigration.
 
When Hernandez fails to show up at rehearsal, he's the first of four lead actors Welles is forced to replace in the short weeks before opening night. Next it's boxer-hustler Jack Carter (wonderfully played by Gary McDonald, whose dynamic "stage presence" dominates all of his scenes.)
 
Most tragically McClendon, hospitalized with the pleurisy that will soon kill her, is replaced by chanteuse, green actress Edna Thomas (Ashli Haynes), originally cast as Lady McDuff, another suggestion by replaced producer Virginia Welles.
 
Charismatic twins Kelsey and Skyler Yates play her daughter Clarissa Thomas. 
 
(FYI Carter, who had a serious drinking problem, never left the show- Welles famously worked around it and Carter eased up on his drinking. He starred through both the Harlem and part of the Broadway runs.  Juano Hernandez, who actually left the show for a lucrative radio job, went on to a memorable Hollywood career (Young Man With A Horn, Kiss Me Deadly, Intruder In The Dust, The Breaking Point, Sergeant Rutledge (The Pawnbroker, They Call Me Mister Tibbs! among many others )
 
As any theatre worker knows, you MAY NOT mention "Macbeth" in any theatre without invoking the famous Curse, attached to its premiere performance on August 7, 1606. Possibly a long running hoax penned by English critic Max Beerbohm, none the less many mishaps and even deaths bedeviled cast members of the production through the centuries. 
 
The script left out a marvelous story told by John Houseman. After New York Herald Tribune drama critic Percy Hammond panned the show, the show's resident head Santero told Welles and Houseman. "This is a very bad man" and proposed a "beri-beri" session. The drummers held a ritual later that night and a few days later Hammond expired.
 
If only there had been money to show opening night when triumphant Harlemites swelled the streets surrounding the Lafayette Theatre insuring the play's success.
 
Kudos to Producers Miles Alva, Jason Phillips, Xiaoyuan Xiao who brought the pitch to Warners Brothers and to  Production Designer Maren H. Jensen and  Costume Designer Naomi Wolff Lachter.
 
Two independent sci fi films, short on budget but long on ideas, inventively delivered. Writer-director Andreas Z Simon's t=E/x2 is the clever story of film editor Merlin (Mario Ganss) who ironically discovers during a last minute edit of a film on Linear Time thats he's trapped in a time loop. Adept cinematography by Matthias Martinez and editing by Cesare Del Vecchio and Matthias Martinez sell the story allowing us to suspend belief without a lot of special effects.
 
Prismatic manipulation and overlapping images roll back time repeatedly as Merlin realizes what's up and begins to master and eventually end the time loop.
 
Somehow skirting the TimeTravel paradox we join Merlin in his repeatedly lived sequences, (2 steps forwards, 1 step back.)
 
While working co-worker Miro (Micky Jukovic) interrupts to deliver a mysterious basket addressed to Merlin and, curious, tries to hang around to open it. Boss Stanislav Forg (Nick Benjamin) interrupts to see how close Merlin is to showing the reel then ushers in three TV editors from the client TV Station.  Sending out for coffee, he bumps into Miro bearing coffee for their guests . This series of events repeats until something in the sequence changes.
 
Götz Otto plays the future Thadeus Moff, who sends Merlin a package of Steam Punk tools and desperate instructions son how to collapse the Time Loop and protect the Future: Merlin has to create an event that hasn't happened before to nudge the loop forward.
 
Striking Jasmin Wagner plays Ava, the other Time Traveller, who brings weapons so they can fulfill their missions.
 
Marlene Hoffmann plays Penny, Merlin's new girlfriend, who also plays a critical part in their mission.
 
Prop designer Wilhelm Simon's wonderful
gyroscopic compass, hightech kaleidoscope, and hourglass that straps to Merlin's arm, really make the film sing.  Music by Christoph Paulssen aids and abets. 
 
Alrik Bursell's The Alternate is a riveting story about alternate world Portals.
 
Disgruntled film maker Jake (Ed Gonzalez Moren) complains about his dead-end job filming corporate "industrial" films. Wife Kris (Natalia Dominguez), a would-be glasses designer works in an optometrist's office/shop so that Jake can finish his indie film Space  Jam. But she's fast losing patience. She wants to work part time so they can have a child.
 
While editing in his home edit bay, Jake enlarges a digital speck- an anomaly that perhaps contributed to a camera glitch during their latest shoot. Enlarging that anomaly he discovers an active whirlpool.  Fascinated by its enticing blues and movement he projects it on his edit screen. 
 
Tossing a ball he's shocked to see it disappear into the screen. He ventures across and discovers a luxurious house on the other side, and after some cautious exploring realizes that he's in an Alternate Universe version of his life, where live Alternate Jake and Kris, who apparently have all the luck, success and unfulfilled dreams he and his wife lack, including an adorable daughter.  Both lead actors are up to the challenge of playing duel roles. I CAN SAY NO MORE.
 
Cinematography by Jason Joseffer, production design by Rob Riutta and art direction by Rachel Groat are smart and effective.
 
Mars Roberge's "Mister Sister, DWF's closing night film, is a feel good dramedy set in New York's  LGBTQ community
 
When Jordan (a former Glam Rock singer in a band in Milwaukee) breaks up with his girlfriend Lisa, he loses it. The rest of his life isn't working that well either: with warrants out and an overwhelming amount of back taxes, he lights out for Manhattan, leaving the band in the dark. He decides to go underground as a drag queen so no-one can find him
 
We meet him panhandling in the street at night. He's so freaked out he scares off passerbys, but Charmaine (drag diva HRH Princess Diandra) takes pity, bringing "her" to meet her drag posse, dressing for a ball at their fave club. Jordan (not outed as a straight boy) begs to come along. They bedeck him and pay his entry.
 
Mouthy drunk "Mister Sister", dressed in his sexy Nun drag starts working the crowd at a drag bar later, offering to take selfies with the hapless Asian tourists he's insulted. Club owner Sonny (Jim Sclavunos) knows a good thing when he sees it and offers "her" a job as MC. 
 
Charmaine gives "Mister Sister" a place to crash. They bond as roommates.  Mister Sister/Jordan is so good natured when he's not high that everyone adopts him in the crowd, and he falls for straight "tuna" waitress Marie (Debra Haden) and her daughter Julie (Nadia Shimunova.)
 
When he's drunk or high, he has a wicked tongue and rules the room as a diva of insult comedy. Crass and campy and often increasingly going too far-he eventually gets an ultimatum from Sonny to "get your shit together."
 
Roberge's film is filled with characters familiar to New Yorkers. It's impressive how elaborate the production is for an indie film. The script has a few flaws but the cast is interesting and keeps the film grooving.
 
Jack James Busa is beautiful as both man and woman and his closing Bowiesque song is a high point. He is an awesome talent and so charismatic you can't keep your eyes off him This film MUST make him a star. Princess Diandra is grounded and sympathetic as his supportive roommate . The Queens: Shia Ho (as Jasmin), Gazelle Paulo (as Sabrina), Chaka Khanvict (as self), Brandon Olson (as Vera), Gazelle Paulo (as Sabrina) are raunchy, funny and splendid. Paul Alexander is great as the club's MC. 
 
A wonderful mixed genre soundtrack (credit Roberge and Linda Lamb) and Cody Stauffer's cinematography show New York City off, from grunge to glory.
 
Writer-director Stevan Lee Mraovitch's "Vacations At All Cost" is a comedy about France's month of August when everyone goes on vacation.
 
Overworked, accommodating engineering worker Fred (Oumar Diaw) is bamboozled by his greedy boss Toussaint (Antoine Schoumsky), who runs a tech support company. Schnorring Fred with years of hard luck stories about the company's impending collapse, Toussaint successfully withholds a year of under the table  overtime payments Fred needs to finally take his wife Fanny and son back to her home town on the Cote D'Azur.
 
Unable to admit to Fanny (Donia Eden) that once again he's been cheated by his boss, Fred continues with their vacation plans. Planning to use the rent money to pay for their camping unit (and worry about the rent later), Fed attacks the mailman, steals back the mailed check 
and hides the check before they leave.
 
Fanny finds the check and mails it, telling Fred on they're the road to the Riviera.
 
Fred calls Jean-Luc (Benjamin Garnier), Fanny's girlhood friend and confides.  Jean Luc, who owns the holiday camp where they are staying, tells Fred not to worry. They can "work it out".
 
They arrive at the unrecognizable camp site, now a Luxe Camp (catering to Germans). Jean-Luc installs them in a beautiful unit. They can't believe their luck, nor their eyes: once obese loser Jean-Luc is a trim playboy, with a snazzy sport car, seemingly living the life of Riley.
 
It's all part of slimy Jean-Luc's plan to get Fanny back,  aided by still obese galpal Vera (Lise Marsault-Hierro).
 
Jean Luc assigns Fred one demeaning job after another, supposedly making logical excuses for Fred. Jean-Luc begins his seduction of Fanny, ferrying her and her son to the beach and secret childhood hideaways, while making excuses for Fred meant to drive the happy couple apart.
 
Fred's first day is the worse, cleaning the filthiest camper in the history of the world and manhandling an obese black out woman drunk (Vera!). Next he's arresting for cleaning up endangered roadkill, counseled by a compassionate Tranny (Nikola Kmirnac) in his cell, forced to teach nude Yoga to a room full of nudists and unleashed as a stripper in a room of crazed bridesmaids.
 
The humor is broader than I like. I'm probably in the minority.  Engaging perfs by Donia Eden, Oumar Diaw, and Lise Marsault-Hierro sweetened the deal for me.
 
2021 DWF's doc slate was fascinating.
 
Peppered with great talking heads and witty chapter headings, writer/ director Tom Gibbons' "Hollywood  Priest The Story of Fr. "Bud" Kieser" is the fascinating tale of the Catholic priest who created the successful spiritual anthology serIes "Insight" -written, directed and acted by Hollywood a-listers. 
 
Kieser (Caesar) was a prophetic name for the Philadelphia-born Paulist father who chose early media star Reverend Fulton Sheen, General George Patton and Thomas Merton as his boyhood heroes.
 
Ellwood "Bud" Kieser was attached to St Paul The Apostle in Westwood California where he preached to congregants of all faiths, quoting Pope Pius 11th, "We are all spiritual semites, Christian and Jew, God love and keep you all". His popular Catholic Inquiry Class, a class dedicated to the curious of all faith, became a model for his career as an unlikely media Mogul.
 
A buff, charismatic, Intellectually gifted 6 Ft 6 priest young Kieser wangled a trip to Vatican ll as a correspondent.  
 
Vatican ll opened the Church to the modern world at large, changed the language of Mass from Latin to the local vernacular, allowed priests to serve mass facing the laity, stripped back the ornate vestments, absolved Jews of the Killing of Christ and apologized for the schisms between the Roman and the Eastern church.
 
Kieser came back determined to start a media ministry.
 
In the earlier broadcasting days, stations were required to broadcast Public access shows because they were using the "public airways."
 
He approached local TV studios, employing their crews  when they were on paid seasonal hiatus, 'hired' the show business members of his Church to direct, script and act (Jerry Lewis, Carol O' Conner, Bob Newhart Jane Wyman Ricardo Montalban for a start!)
 
Larger than life Kaiser intimated his directors and had final say on takes. The high quality of his shows offered actors a chance to play different types of roles and soon most of Hollywood royalty began appearing on the shows, considering it an honor. The list included Patty Duke,  Brian Keith, John Ritter, Ron Howard,  Ed Asner , William, Shatner, Mark Hamill, Cicely Tyson, Jeff Bridges, Bob Newhart (who quipped "if you didn't accept  you were going to hell"), Jay Sandrich, Rue McClanahan, Jack Klugman, Lee Purcell,  Tim Matheson Kelly, Martin Sheen, Gene Hackman, Carl Betz, James McEachin, Harvey Korman, Jeffrey Hunter, and regular Vera Miles,
 
Bud's talented producing chops created shows to rival  prime time productions. His Paulist Productions encouraged a dialogue about spiritual values and morality with the world. 
 
Despite ongoing wrangles with the conservative Archbishop of Los Angeles James Francis McIntyre, one of the few naysaying votes at Vatican ll, Bud created a nationwide syndication for Insight and continued until relaxed FCC rulings ended most Public Access, and a generation of Televangelists emerged willing to pay for the free slots Bud used.
 
A savvy closer and "upseller", skills he learned manning his dad's gas station, Kaiser regularly wore shoes with holes in his soles when he did Talk Show stints, to encourage charitable giving.
 
He invented the Humanitas Award, one of the industry's most important and coveted awards. 
 
Kaiser fell in love with Sr. Genevieve, a bright Sister who wrote a script about a nun questioning her vocation.  (You'll never see another film where a nun's face is blurred to protect her anonymity.)
 
As titles on all Paulist Productions explained, "The mission of the (North American) Paulists is focused on sharing Catholic faith and life with those outside of the Church."
 
When his media empire shrank, trips to famine ravaged  Ethiopia opened Kaiser's heart. His new mission led to a campaign to bring world attention to the refugee problems in West Africa. Charitable giving followed.
 
Kaiser's new commitment to the poor led to another landmark production, the film bio-pick of Archbishop Father Romero, assassinated by Right Wing forces in San Salvador. The film became a classic over night and eventually brought its progressive message to Prime Time . Though not mentioned in the film Kaiser produced two films, sixteen TV Movies , two shorts and three TV series. A MUST SEE.
 
Patricia Nazario's "Backstreet to The American Dream"
offers a fascinating portrait of LA's traditional Latino owned food trucks (which serve construction sites and largely Latino neighborhoods,) and their unlikely spawn- Gourmet Food Trucks which now swell LA Streets, surrounding popular cultural sites like LACMA and The LA Convention Center.
 
A animated sequence tells the history of Mexico's indigenous foodstuffs, which were already portable during the time of the Conquest.
 
Dona Guillermina Vella Rio, longtime owner of el pescadito lonchera and a moving presence, anchors the film.  Cleveland-born Rick Restiva, who took over the business as a teenager when his father died, explains the history of 'mobile food, from cold trucks to the current monster Food Trucks and tells his story of surviving the curbside turf wars, turning him into a 'predator'.
 
We meet the three burger-meister owners of "grill em all", the winner of the Great Food Truck Race, and learn how their win made them sold out food-truckers nationwide. 
 
Food trucks, traditionally an entrepreneurial business for immigrants who lack the capitol to go brick and mortar, are now appearing around the world, and  typically function the same way in those countries  
 
We're introduced (if you don't know about) food truck Super star Roy Choy's Kogi Korean BBQ. Choy who first used Twitter to alert customers of his daily locations, pumped steroids into the nascent business. He even made the cover of Time, (then starred on The Chef Show) an international success. Korean Choy is the avatar who helped spread Gourmet Food Trucks around the world.
 
Ironically, it was the success of gourmet food trucks on the Westside that reinforced LA and LA County's attempts to regulate and restrict food trucks.
 
Mostly we watch the political skirmishes as the LA City Council and LA County, responding to pressure from brick and mortar restaurants and businesses, try to curtail street use by food trucks. Their tools include I hr Parking enforcement, with proposed higher fines to repeat offenders (truck owners see their daily parking fines as the price of doing business), annual permit fees  (currently about 5 annually) and surprise inspections connected to letter grading.)
 
Despite her progressive politics Gloria Molina (a former Chicano movement activist) lead the attack when she   
was the Councilwoman for LA's historic District 1.
 
In 2008, Molina introduced legislation to the board of supervisors which would severely increase penalties on food vendors in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, including East L.A.
 
We learn about the ongoing pushback as the Lanchero owners organized La Asociacon de Lancheras (and about UCLA's Labor Center, who have been detailing the struggle).
 
"As goes California so goes the Nation": the food truck business spread around the nation, and the political battles followed.
 
Dolores Heurta served as the film's Executive Producer.
 
James Fletcher's involving "The Accidental President" is an autopsy on how Trump managed to get elected. Narrated by talking heads of both parties, it's a reminder of the then high water mark of America's (UN) Civil Wars and the rise of both Right and Left wing Populism.
 
Some of the most interesting commentators are Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio, Steve Schmidt (McCain 2008 campaign, The Lincoln Project), Van Jones (Dream Corp), Anthony Scaramucci, former Secret Service man Jonathan Wackrow, Mary Ball, Mary Katharine Ham, Piers Morgan, Allan Lichtman, who successfully predicted all presidential runs since 1984, and Kelly Anne Conway.
 
Conway devised the Anti Immigration stance to activate the rust belt states. Her female support of Trump, when the "Pussy" tape was exposed, helped him survive. Sitting in the White House during her interview, Conway winks saying, "It's the people's house, we might as well use it."
 
Journalist Mary Ball states that Trump discovered attacks on Obama (the birth certificate hoax) got him traction as red meat for the Republican base. "Republicans were looking for a "gut puncher, a streetfighter," states Republican pundit Frank Luntz.
 
Anthony Scaramucci (briefly White House Chief of Communications under Trump) defines Trump as "The first smash mouth shock jock candidate. He came in there with his tongue. He used 'em as boxing fists. He was knocking 'em left and right and they couldn't handle it."
 
Trump dominated Republican debates, using put-down nicknames to defeat his rivals. His nicknames, and the visuals of his Air Force 1-like private jet and presidential size security detail, conveyed presidential authority to the American voters weary of Washington's corruption. 
 
Describing America's enduring, tattered rag to riches myth, Schmidt says, "Trump lives like a Rap Star". His entire Reality TV brand was a visual rebuke to the perceived East Coast Elite.
 
Richard Miniter offers, "They admired Donald Trump they way they once admired Elvis. They see a guy living large, who's enjoying life, who's doing what they would probably do if they were worth millions of dollars.
 
Amy Chozich adds, " Trump is the guy that like the working class man would be if he won the lottery." 
 
There's a history of presidential election victories linked to mastery of the emerging media of the moment.
 
FDR was a master of the radio, which got him reelected; photogenic Kennedy dominated the TV debates; Obama mastered the new media tool the Internet and nascent social media. Trump brought his ceaseless self promotion to Twitter, using his endless provocations to disrupt mainstream media and sidestep the traditional campaign discourse.  "Trump and Twitter was an unusual toxic combination," states John Avlon.
 
Van Jones contends, "The Bush dynasty is done... emerging Republican stars like Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry  who are done in Americans life, and then he got to the Democrats!"
 
Scaramucci explains, "You don't have serious policy debates anymore because the phone changed everything...shortened up everybody's attention span. Trump understood that I'm in and out of this thing in 30 seconds. That's gonna show up in everybody's media page. That's gonna show up as soundbites on the news and I'm gonna be the guy controlling the narrative, they're not."
 
Scott Adams (Dilbert cartoonist) contends "people watch Reality TV for the humor.  With Trump's campaign the news became comedy." Piers Morgan describes, "This was a TV star who knows how to work the medium of television and because most of the Republican candidates were cowed into thinking they shouldn't expose themselves too much, Trump sucked up all the airtime."
 
As Van Jones explains, "In Reality Television the villain is always the star. Rude and mean, that's the trope in Reality TV." "He pulled the world of politics over the wall into the world of entertainment," continued Van Jones.
 
We're reminded that the media, focussed on the best story, gave Trump the bulk of their coverage- free coverage that enabled him to dominate the national conversation. And he'd call up any media outlet and talk: no-one controlled his message.
 
As then CBS CEO Leslie Moonves admits , "It may not be good for America but its damn good for CBS."
 
The film offers a moment of "ceasefire" reflection and serves as a Jeremiad on what can happen if we don't manage to heal America's great "truth" divide.
 
We are reminded of how Trump broke all the sacred rules of campaigning and won, even after attacking veteran John McCain and after the famous "pussy" conversation was outed. Not to mention refusing to support the eventual Republican candidate in the primaries televised debate.
 
Steve Schmidt opined, correctly, that the DNC believed Obama's winning coalition had permanently shifted the US electorate. The RNC and the media believed Trump's initial presidential campaign was another publicity stunt. Howard Stern believed it was a way to get NBC to renew The Apprentice and raise Trump's salary.
 
Fletcher exposes Hillary's Ivory Tower hubris: avoiding interviews; and her team and pollsters' critical mistake to not "waste money" barnstorming the heartland and rust belt states (they even refused Obama's offer to barnstorm for her).  
 
Van Jones dubbed Hillary's failure to take her campaign to the ground "Political Malpractice." Howard Stern opines that If Hilary had deigned to come on his show, she would have carried those states (especially Pennsylvania) that swung red at the last moment. He may have been right. He's the only one with the same Shock Jock view of how to swing people's opinion through social media memes that Trump brought to the campaign. 
 
Fletcher's film captures Bernies Sander's astonishing run- the flash fire he lit at the Convention- though falls short of suggesting that only Bernie might have stopped Trump's ascension.
 
The RNC, panicking that George W. Bush might be the last democratically elected president, began seriously working to derail Trump. Too late.
 
The RNC failed to overturn their outsider candidate, unfortunately the DNC did derail Bernie's campaign. 
 
The night before election day, some Bush campaign operatives leaked the news that they would lose- to a bunch of mainstream news editors, explained John Adlon, then managing director of The Daily Beast and former Giuliani speechwriter.
 
A clever montage of outraged magazine covers reminds us of the media shock waves when Trump won: "House of Horrors," "Believe It," Homer Simpson's "doh."
 
Aaron Sorkin suggests "We, the voters, all have to take responsibility."  Michael D'Antonio believes, "American always gets the President it deserves. This is an age distorted by greed... by inequality...by social media. Why wouldn't we be offered the chance to elect a president whose main skill is self promotion. That makes him the ultimate American."  
 
Accidental but inevitable?
 
As Jerry Springer concluded, "You're calling it accidental. It may be accidental that Donald Trump got elected but it is not an accident that someone well known, outside of politics, would suddenly rise." 
 
We can no longer assume that what we've known for the last 50 years has any relevance," warns Frank Luntz.
 
"We live in this era where we're being disrupted by social media, by globalization, by technology revolution, by automation. How does he win?  How does he not win?" asks Steve Schmidt.
 

Alas, one of Trumps first acts was to dismantle Obama's comprehensive contingency plans for dealing with Pandemics, a decision we are still paying for-perhaps forever.

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