Notes From a Red State Film Festival in Hollywood


I spent a chunk of this weekend in Hollywood over at the American Film Renaissance, the self-described "first-ever film festival formed expressly to celebrate the timeless principles of individual freedom that made America great." Triumph of the individual? In Hollywood??

I kid. I liked all three features I saw: Rocky-for-seniors motorcycle biopic The World's Fastest Indian, Finnish WWII orphan-tearjerker Mother of Mine, and the inexplicably straight-to-DVD Back to the Future-meets-On the Road coming-of-age yarn from 2002, Interstate 60.

The main impression I took away from the weekend reinforces one I've long had—that right-of-center or pro-WoT types who actually work in Hollywood (of whom I know several) seem much less agitated by the film industry's allegedly stifling anti-conservative sentiment than their right-leaning fans. Most of the Q&As I saw turned to Media Bias or Hollywood Conformity by question 2 at the latest; Gary Sinise, for one, (who was there to promote his worthwhile Operation Iraqi Children initiative) repeatedly passed up opportunities to damn his colleagues, or even to ascribe a blanket characterization of their politics.

There are certainly flaws with this analogy, but conservative activists' approach to Hollywood reminds me much of gay activists' approach to marriage—they want desperately (and understandably) to have equal access to the institution, but are conflicted about how to maintain a separate identity on enemy territory. That tension played out in the festival's advertisements—"Red State acting coach, Blue State industry," promised one. "You are not alone," cooed the Hollywood Congress of Republicans.

And the aggrieved-minority perception still works well as raw organizing fuel. "The Tide is turning," the beleaguered Sisypheans at announced. Who knows? Maybe one day the conservative movement may rise again.

Back in October, Jesse Walker shared his lessons from another conservative film festival.