New ‘Larry Flynt for President’ Doc Spotlights Wild Political Saga

NEW YORK — The much-anticipated new documentary “Larry Flynt for President” was finally unveiled earlier this month at the Tribeca Film Festival, and the first reviews are praising it for its unflinching, verité-style approach at the rollicking saga of the Hustler publisher’s unlikely challenge to Ronald Reagan for the 1984 presidential nomination.

Variety’s top reviewer Owen Gleiberman described Flynt’s 1983 storming of the American political system as a piece of “media guerrilla performance art.”

larry flynt for president

“It was a rolling publicity stunt, an anything-goes kamikaze assault on the very idea of government,” wrote Gleiberman. “In Flynt’s words, the campaign would be ‘an act of satire and rebellion against Reagan’s America’.”

Gleiberman points out that there are two jokes to the documentary, one being that at the time the unstoppable Flynt “literally thought he could win.”

But the second one is only revealed in hindsight: “the joke no one could possibly know at the time is that as seen today, in Nadia Szold’s lively archival documentary ‘Larry Flynt for President,’ the Flynt campaign now looks like a trashy, penny-ante anticipation of the 2016 Donald Trump campaign — or, at least, certain aspects of it. It was a mud-slinging circus, an all-out assault on decorum in politics, though with a serious issue at its heart: Flynt’s absolutist defense of the First Amendment.”

Yesterday’s review of the documentary in respected international indie film blog Screen Anarchy, by Martin Kudlac, explains that “Szold revisits the real-life story popularized by Milos Forman’s 1996 biopic drama ‘The People vs. Larry Flynt’ in her found-footage montage ‘Larry Flynt For President’” by assembling “never-before-seen footage captured in 1983 as a film crew shadowed Flynt in his attempt for the White House office.”

The reviewer quotes Frank Zappa summarizing Flynt as “unique and colorful.”

“Those intersections make Flynt a fascinating protagonist to observe as Szold’s oeuvre offers equal doses of insight, suspense, hilariousness, and heartbreak,” Screen Anarchy concludes.

“Larry Flynt for President” was produced by Seine Pictures and brought to Tribeca by Film Nation. It will gain wider distribution later this year.

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