Saturday, April 01, 2006

Film Review: 'Our Brand is Crisis'

By Jim Witkins

Last night I attended the Wisconsin Film Festival showing of 'Our Brand is Crisis', a truly amazing, if not disillusioning, behind the scenes look at the 2002 Bolivian Presidential Election in all its unflattering dimensions. The documentary features American consulting all stars Jeremy Rosner, Stan Greenberg, Tad Devine, and James Carville who are hired to turn around the faltering campaign of former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (Goni).

While it’s hard not to admire the sheer brainpower and art of war mentality these guys bring to the campaign, you’re really left wondering if democracy can survive this focus-group driven, branding-is-everything approach to politics.

As many of these same consultants shaped the Kerry campaign in 2004, you start to question their tactics and strategy, much of which is foreshadowed in this film. You also see the Rovian influence at its worst when they decide to go negative with attack ads by ‘outside’ groups against a Goni opponent. In the end the audience is left wondering, did anyone actually win here? And does the media dictate the tactics or do the tactics drive the media’s coverage?

Highly recommended!


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