If you were looking for damning footage or other brickbats to toss at Hillary Clinton, the highly anticipated documentary Weiner – about the disgraced politician, who’s married to Clinton’s closest aide – proved a disappointment in its premiere Sundance screening today. Despite the heavy presence of Anthony Weiner’s wife and now Clinton campaign vice-chair Huma Abedin in both the film and her husband’s career, the now candidate herself is not in the pic directly nor even mentioned much beyond cable news clips and magazine covers.
“No footage was taken out” said co-director Elyse Steinberg Sunday after the Sundance Film Festival premiere at a full MARC Theatre that included Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. “We have no control,” she added about how Clinton foes’ may “utilize this film.” To be honest, besides a couple of one-liners by association and a call or two in the film from a “Phillipe” they won’t have a lot to work with in this profile of resurgence and flameout.
Picked up by Sundance Selects and Showtime Films earlier this month, the Josh Kriegman and Steinberg directed docu does have amazing access and goes very upclose and personal as Weiner’s 2013 NYC mayoral bid crashes due to another sexting scandal. Even though it had not been seen in advance, the film had attracted a lot of media attention due to the role and presence of Abedin, who has long be Hillary Clinton’s confidant and personal assistant. With Clinton fighting a tough battle against Bernie Sanders in the polls heading into the February 1 Iowa Caucuses and the soon following New Hampshire primary, several outlets claimed that early cuts of Weiner had footage of the ex-NY Senator or her surrogates trying to convince Abedin to walk away from Weiner and the scandal that torpedoed his 2013 City Hall run. The implication being that the footage would prove red meat for Clinton’s opponents from both political parties.
Weiner resigned from Congress back in 2011 when it was first revealed that he had been sending out explicit photos online to women. Then two and a half years ago, he saw his Gracie Mansion dreams sputter to an end when he was caught sending highly sexual texts to women – using the laughable alias of Carlos Danger. Having been granted great access earlier in the 2013 Mayor campaign, Weiner’s former chief of staff Kriegman and veteran filmmaker Steinberg were there to capture all the fallout, chaos and Drudge Report shout-outs as it unfolded. The whole film is nicely summarized near the end, as Weiner watches himself on TV literally flipping the finger to the press following a terrible losing performance during the 2013 Democratic mayoral primary. “I have a virtually unlimited ability to f**k things up day by day,” the self-absorbed pol says, as Abedin sits silently in the background.
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Competing in the U.S. Documentary category, Weiner is set for five more screenings this Sundance.The film is set for a theatrical and VOD release on May 20 with an airing on Showtime to follow.
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