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Al Franken: God Spoke, April 21

49th San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA

Friday, April 21, 2006
7:00 p.m. Al Franken: God Spoke
Chris Hegedus, Nick Doob (U.S., 2006)

Love him or loathe him, the sharp-tongued liberal pundit Al Franken is on a mission. Since the 2003 publication of his bestselling book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, he has been fixated on discrediting the right-wing media's alleged propensity for propagating misinformation in its reportage and on exposing the Bush administration for its own acts of distortion. Dismissed as a "vile smear merchant" by archnemesis Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, the bespectacled political satirist will stop at nothing to enrich the country's media diet by relentlessly, as Franken says, "taking what they say and using it against them." In this unflinching probe into the daily working life of the former Saturday Night Live writer and principal voice of Air America Radio, filmmakers Chris Hegedus and Nick Doob apply their classic, unobtrusive style in tracking the obstreperous Franken over the course of two years. Partners with renowned documentarian D. A. Pennebaker (The War Room, 1994) for over thirty years, Hegedus and Doob's direct cinema strategies provide a candid, engrossing portrait of freedom of speech as exercised by one of the nation's more colorful political insiders, interspersing existing TV footage of Franken in action with frank, behind-the-scenes glimpses into the pundit's personal life. Whether he's hobnobbing with Henry Kissinger at a swanky gathering of Republican bigwigs, engaging in an onstage contretemps with conservative vixen Ann Coulter, or pondering a 2008 senate run, Franken is never anything less than unstoppable.

—Andy Bailey

• Photographed by Doob, Hegedus. (90 mins)