Penny Lane: Our Nixon

It has been shown in Rotterdam and is scheduled for the upcoming DokuFest in Kosovo, but that’s all for European screenings so far. This is at least what the website of the film tells the reader…

But it will come, I am sure and agree with the critic below, A.O. Scott in New York Times, ”We’ll always have Nixon to kick around”. This time a film has been made from archive material, actually S-8 home movies shot by White House staff personalities Haldeman and Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin.

The film has aroused debate about the film, more precisely about the way it has been marketed by CNN, and Chapin writes the following: “While the film’s expressed desire is to highlight the stories of the three Nixon staffers by use of our movies, the film, in my opinion, barely explores our years together, and doesn’t even come close to portraying or presenting ‘our’ Nixon. It seems to me (of course I cannot speak for my deceased colleagues [Haldeman and Ehrlichman] and friends) that this film is more about using our personal videos as a cloaked angle for a particular –and predictable–pre-existing view of President Nixon.”

The former White House Deputy Assistant to the President has written a review on the site of the Richard Nixon Foundation, see below. Caption ””Our Nixon” is Not My Nixon”. But there are many views on the film, here is a summarized one from the New York Times critic:

”Apart from some old news clips, most of the images come from Super-8 home movies shot, starting just after the 1968 election, by Dwight Chapin, H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, loyal Nixon aides and eventual Watergate felons. Their amateur footage is accompanied by snippets of the now famous White House tapes and intercut with rueful post-prison interviews. The experience is a bit like a demo version of a greatest-hits album. Well-known episodes — the trip to China, the Pentagon Papers, Vietnam, the wedding of Nixon’s daughter Tricia, and of course the fallout from a certain third-rate Washington burglary — take on a strange new coloring, revealing a curiously touching human dimension.” (A.C. Scott)

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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