POV: Dark Money
—The Haunting Truth of Corporate Spending in Politics Revealed—
Your vote can be bought, but at what cost? “Dark Money” follows local Montana journalist John S. Adams, who is determined to uncover the truth about funding in his state’s elections.
The film gains insights over the course of three election cycles as it solves an increasingly complicated and blurred puzzle.
“Dark Money” traces Adams’ steps and sheds light on the grassroots movement to unveil the mysterious financing behind our elections.
This award-winning independent film offers numerous perspectives on dark money donations — the unlimited campaign contributions from undisclosed donors, individuals and corporations that have been allowed since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United.
“Dark money is the advertising where you don’t know who's paying for the ads,” said Llew Jones, a Montana state senator. “We’ve just simply got to hold these up and say, ‘Who is paying for this? What are they attempting to buy?’”
Filmmaker Kimberly Reed, whose family has lived in Montana for four generations, dives into these questions specifically as they pertain to the state.
“People in this state had a good sense of history about the excesses of capitalism, because that’s essentially what it is. It’s in your face here. You can’t really ignore that,” said Cheri Maclean, a Montana voter.
In Montana, many of the voices against dark money are Republican.
Debra Bonogofsky, a small business owner running for the Montana State House of Representatives on a campaign that promotes “fiscal responsibility” and small government, considers resisting dark money groups a matter of integrity: “If you don’t vote the way they want you to vote in the legislature, they will target you the next primary, even if you're a conservative Republican.”
John S. Adams, former capital bureau chief for the Great Falls Tribune and creator of the Montana Free Press, is the leading investigator featured in the film.
He noted that when campaigns can receive unlimited sums from anonymous donors, hidden from public scrutiny, the consequences are clear:
“Then it’s not the people controlling the government — it’s the government controlled by a corporation controlling the people, which is like super-crazy Big Brother, but it’s happening.”
The film draws parallels between the local influence of dark money in Montana and the effects of corporate political spending on a national scale.
“This film will keep you on the edge of your seat,” said Justine Nagan, executive producer/executive director of POV/American Documentary. “‘Dark Money’ gives you a glimpse into what many of the most powerful people and groups don’t want you to see. It also gives voice to the many pioneers on both sides of the aisle in the crusade against unlimited anonymous campaign contributions. In the run-up to yet another pivotal election season, this film is an important work examining some of the most crucial pillars of our democracy.”
WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:
The film has its national broadcast and streaming in 2018, and is not currently available to stream on demand. The DVD is available for purchase at ShopPBS.org.
Full episodes of POV are available to view on demand for a limited time after broadcast.
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Director: Kimberly Reed. Producers: Kimberly Reed, Katy Chevigny. Executive Producers: Michael Bloom, Adam Pincus, Nancy Stephens, Rick Rosenthal, David J. Cornfield, Linda A. Cornfield. Co-Executive Producer: Katy Drake Bettner. Cinematography by Kimberly Reed, Eric Phillips-Horst, Jay Arthur Sterrenberg. Editor: Jay Arthur Sterrenberg. Original score by Miriam Cutler. Executive Producers for POV: Justine Nagan and Chris White.
POV is American television’s longest-running documentary series now in its 31st season. The documentary is a co-production of American Documentary | POV and ITVS.
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Dark Money (PBS)
POV Documentary by Kimberly Reed
Dark Money, a political thriller, examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. The film takes viewers to Montana—a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide—to follow an intrepid local journalist working to expose the real-life impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Through this gripping story, Dark Money uncovers the shocking and vital truth of how American elections are bought and sold. Official Selection, 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
American television’s longest-running independent documentary series, POV is the premiere showcase for independent nonfiction films accessible to the widest American audience, free on broadcast and online. In 2017, POV documentaries earned 12 News & Documentary Emmy Award nominations, a Peabody Award and an Academy Award nomination.
Another Montana feature, related to Anaconda, that’s brought up early in the movie, is the pool of a long abandoned copper mine, 50 billion gallons strong, filled with toxic chemicals. It’s a problem that no one has come up with a viable plan to clean up (and when Anaconda controlled the state’s politics, there was minimal concern with cleaning it up), and various figures in the movie predict it will be the site of an ecological disaster if nothing is done.
The movie’s default narrator is a young man named John Adams, an investigative reporter for the Great Falls Tribune, who begins by tracking the source of near-slanderous postcards going out in the mail days before elections, influencing gullible voters. One politician points out, with both indignation and mordant amusement, a piece of campaign literature that paints the politician as a friend of John Wayne Gacy’s. Not only is that not the case, but Gacy is from Illinois anyway.
The new uses of dark money, it is discovered, is rooted in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s legislation designed to allow oodles of anonymous corporate dough into the process. Organizations with acronyms like WTP and ATP provide fronts for far-right operatives while Montana state legislator Art Wittich rails for a “purge” of moderate Republicans from the Senate.
Over the several years covered in this movie, Adams loses his Great Falls Tribune job, under circumstances that strongly suggest he was uncovering material that made its owners somehow uncomfortable. Adams founds a website and covers a story that provides a glimmer of hope in this very grim picture, one made even more grim when the predicted ecological disaster involving the toxic mine pool actually happens.
This is an informative film that deals up its facts in a sober, linear fashion. This is salutary in that it avoids sensationalism that might lead to accusations of conspiracy-theory mongering. But it also has the effect of making the film feel a little dry. After playing the Sundance Film Festival this year it was acquired by PBS. It’s not an insult to call this an exemplary PBS documentary; let’s just say you should make sure you are really in the MOOD for a PBS doc before you check out “Dark Money.”
Dark money pov
Screening - POV: Dark Money
WTTW, in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Oak Park and River Forest, presents a community screening of the documentary Dark Money. A century ago, corrupt money swamped Montana’s government, but Montanans weren’t having it; they rose up to prohibit corporate campaign contributions. Today, in wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, Montana is once again fighting to preserve open and honest elections.
This political thriller examines one of the greatest threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. Travel to Montana – a front line in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide – to follow an intrepid local journalist, John S. Adams, who goes to extraordinary lengths to expose the real-life impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, at great personal sacrifice. This film uncovers the shocking and vital truth of how American elections are bought and sold, and reveals what one man, and other everyday heroes, are doing to put a stop to it. Directed by Kimberly Reed.
This is a free event.
Dark Money (film)
For other uses, see Dark Money (disambiguation).
2018 American film
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Kimberly Reed|
|Edited by||Jay Arthur Sterrenberg|
Big Sky Film Productions
Dark Money is a 2018 American documentary film directed by Kimberly Reed about the effects of corporate money and influence in the American political system. The film uses Reed's home state of Montana as a primary case study to advance a broader, national discussion on governance in an era of super PACs and Citizens United. Dark Money premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and premiered to a Montana audience at the Big Sky Film Festival in February 2018. The broadcast rights to Dark Money were purchased by PBS distribution to air the film as part of their docu-seriesPOV in 2018.
Dark Money tracks the influence of corporate money in contemporary American politics. Using the state of Montana as a primary case study, the film engages with the complex history that Montana state politics has with corporate influence in politics. Starting with the story of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, Dark Money shows how the influence of mining corporations caused state legislators to relax mining regulations, which resulted in an environmental catastrophe in Butte, Montana, with problems that persist today. As a result, Montana banned corporate campaign financing of state politics in 1912. However, since the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, corporate interests and big money have made their way back on the scene in Montana and have become a growing national concern. The film traces the steps taken by Montana Attorney General (and later Governor) Steve Bullock to seek relief from campaign finance abuses at a time when the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was ground to a halt by the appointment of three new Republican members, headed by Don McGahn, who systemically blocked all enforcement of FEC regulations. In 2015, Montana reasserted its campaign finance sovereignty with passage of the Montana Disclose Act, which, by requiring full disclosure of contributors' names, removed the "dark" aspect of the Big Money influence on their campaigns. John S. Adams of the Montana Free Press plays a central role in the film as an investigative journalist who has been tracking state politics and "following the money" for several years. Adams has reported on everything from the role of the American Tradition Partnership (formerly known as Western Tradition Partnership) funds in the shaping of state election laws to the illegal political activities of a "right to work" PAC in Montana as well. The film follows Adams's work as a reporter, but it also includes interviews from other prominent figures in Montana state politics and those involved in the movement to examine and limit the influence of dark money in politics.
Director Kimberly Reed explains that she was motivated to make the film because the way to understand any public issue is to understand what guides it. “The first thing you have to look at is the money that’s fueling that issue,” she explains. “Just by following that money, you can tell a lot about the powers-that-be behind it.”
Deadline Hollywood covered the film in anticipation of the Sundance Film Festival, describing it as "controversial," and pointing out that, "The film follows an investigative reporter on the trail of a major legal case in Montana which all ties back to ‘dark money’ political ad campaign spending that no one is privy to where the funding is coming from. The documentary reveals how this practice is devastating elections throughout the country."
Variety's review of the film assessed it as a "microcosm of the troubling impact of the Citizens United ruling on U.S. democracy." The review also states that, "Reed’s sophomore feature is straightforward reportage, telling a complex, multi-issue story with a large number of players, in admirably cogent terms."
Festivals and awards
Dark Money was part of the 2016 "Good Pitch" program, designed to develop documentaries on leading social issues with input from NGOs as well as political and social organizations.Dark Money premiered in January 2018 at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was an official selection and won the Producing Award.Dark Money was the opening night film for the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in February 2018, and won the Best Documentary Award at the Omaha Film Festival in March 2018. The film has screened or is scheduled to screen at several film festivals leading up to the October 1 broadcast and streaming premiere on PBS. These include the FREEP Film Festival, Denver Film Society Women + Film Festival, the Boulder International Film Festival, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.
- ^"dark-money". www.sundance.org. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
- ^"'Dark Money' documentary making Montana debut". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- ^Ramos, Dino-Ray (2018-03-01). "PBS Acquires Rights To Sundance Docu 'Dark Money'". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
- ^"'Dark Money': Film Review | Sundance 2018". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- ^Blumenthal, Paul (15 April 2015). "Montana Republicans And Democrats Unite To Ban Dark Money" – via Huff Post.
- ^"What everyone's talking about: Big Sky, Big Money | Montana Free Press". The Montana Free Press. 2012-10-29. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- ^"Complaint: Dark Money Right to Work Group Engaged in Illegal Political Activities | Montana Free Press". The Montana Free Press. 2018-03-12. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- ^"Sundance '18: Kimberly Reed shines light on "Dark Money"". Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- ^Busch, Anita (2018-01-22). "'Dark Money' Exclusive Clip: Feature Doc Premieres At Sundance Tomorrow". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- ^Harvey, Dennis (2018-04-04). "Film Review: 'Dark Money'". Variety. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- ^Good Pitch : Dark Money, retrieved 2018-04-17
- ^"dark-money". www.sundance.org. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- ^"Dark Money | Big Sky Documentary Film Festival". www.bigskyfilmfest.org. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- ^"Omaha Film Festival". omahafilmfestival.org. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- ^Desk, TV News. "DARK MONEY to Premiere on PBS Series POV this October". Browadway World. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
- ^"'Dark Money' | Freep Film Festival". freepfilmfestival.com. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- ^"Women+Film Festival: Dark Money | Denver Film Society | Kimberly Reed | USA". secure.denverfilm.org. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- ^Brennan, Charlie. "'Dark Money' shines light on cash in politics: BIFF review". DailyCamera.com. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
- ^"Dark Money - Full Frame Documentary Film Festival". Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
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Only, it is not clear why. Maybe for my loneliness. And while we are having sex, he draws words on me. Many, many words.