CATEGORIES Documentary, Independent, Sony Classics, Distribution, Politics, Toronto International Film Festival, Cinematical Indie, Toronto Film Festival, Movies, CinematicalThose of us too young to remember Jimmy Carter the President will soon get to see Jimmy Carter the movie star. Of course, he's appeared in plenty of documentaries in the past, but the 39th President of the United States should receive his greatest cinematic distribution with Jonathan Demme's Jimmy Carter: Man of Plains. The doc, which we first heard about last December, has just been picked up by Sony Classics and is about to figure heavily in the festival season. It will definitely be shown at the Venice Film Festival, and then it will also be screened in Toronto, where Carter is expected to appear. Demme's last documentary, Neil Young: Heart of Gold, also received good distribution -- from Paramount Classics -- and went on to a domestic gross of about $2 million. Demme, who is best known as the Oscar-winning director of The Silence of the Lambs, has better luck with music documentaries than political (The Agronomist only broke a quarter-million). However, Man of Plains was produced by Participant Pictures, who gave us An Inconvenient Truth and Murderball, so hopefully it can follow up those hits with another.
Man of Plains is a book-tour road-trip doc (think Michael Moore's The Big One), which follows Carter as he promotes his 2006 best seller Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Via three months worth of radio, news and university appearances (though not Brandeis, which refused Demme's camera), the film features the former President speaking out about his quest for international peace and encouraging debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like the book it showcases, the film should garner some controversy -- possibly even from former President Bill Clinton, who is one of the stronger critics of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (hopefully Demme got that important interview). Man of Plains features cinematography by Declan Quinn (Leaving Las Vegas) and editing by Kate Amend, who cut the Oscar-winning doc Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport. With this acquisition, Sony Pictures now has nine films playing at Toronto, including The Jane Austen Book Club and Persepolis.