Will run Hillary in 2020

"Hillary": The woman who keeps getting up

In January "Hillary" flickered on the screens at the Sundance Festival in the USA. Before Burstein's work starts on the US streaming platform Hulu on March 6, the documentary series about Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton was now also shown at the Berlin International Film Festival.

"My film shows a woman who has been incredibly polarized and therefore both vilified and glorified," said director Nanette Burstein at the Berlinale in an interview with Deutsche Welle. And so the 252-minute, four-part documentary is about that: "I wanted to understand who this person really is."

The film is not meant to be a legacy for the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. Instead, he looks back on the election at the time. Almost 2000 hours of backstage footage from Clinton's campaign were included. And so the documentary goes well beyond the events of 2016, sheds light on Hillary's political development and finally focuses on the campaign of 2016. "I wanted to make a film about her whole life," says Burstein.

Clinton more open than expected

Burstein first had to convince her protagonist that Hillary's biography was suitable for telling the story of feminism and US politics. More than 45 people who studied or worked with Hillary, including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, eventually contributed to the film.

Director Nanette Burstein with her protagonist Hillary Rodham Clinton

The strip looks behind the facade of an experienced politician who was first lady at the side of her first husband, Bill Clintons, as well as US Secretary of State under President Barack Obama. The person Hillary becomes visible, who - despite all challenges and suffered tragedies - gets up again and again. Filmmaker Burstein was particularly impressed by this bravery: "I don't know," she sums up, "whether I would be capable of it."

For her film project, Burstein became a Hillary expert: "I studied her intensively and interviewed her for seven days, as well as her family, friends and journalists who were on her heels. I have read every book on the subject and viewed every scrap of archive material, who ever existed. " Then the surprise: Clinton was more approachable and open than she would have expected - and capable of self-reflection. Hillary was preoccupied with the thought that many people would find her inauthentic. In the film she says: "I provoke strong opinions." Nonetheless, the director attributes the effect to gender politics in the USA: "Hillary has been part of public life for over 30 years and has pushed the boundaries of what women are allowed to do," says Burstein. "She wanted to cast roles that were mostly occupied by men, and of course that aroused displeasure."

Politician with image problem

But Hillary's image problem is not just based on: "In the 1990s, during the Clinton administration, there were many scandals and allegations of corruption." And even if these have been refuted - something always gets stuck.

Bill Clinton and Hillary talk about his infidelity in the film

As a first lady, Hillary had to publicly address her husband's marital infidelity. Now she tries not to look back because it is too painful: "Hillary is very future-oriented," says Burstein, "but obviously the scandals haunt her all the time."

Controversial with Bernie Sanders

In the documentary, Clinton doesn’t leave Bernie Sanders, her inner-party rival at the time for the Democratic presidential nomination: "Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he has achieved nothing. He was a career politician," said Clinton in the film. And in January, she reiterated her view to Hollywood Reporter magazine.

When US media picked up on the quote, Sanders' supporters reacted indignantly: their hashtag #ILikeBernie was trending on Twitter. Eventually Hillary rowed back: "It wasn't more than 15 seconds in a four-hour documentary."

Burstein, meanwhile, believes the US media has distorted the story. At the Berlinale press conference, Hillary even agreed to help Sanders - albeit without naming him: "I'll wait and see who we nominate," said Clinton, "and I will support the nominee." She added militantly: "I think it is imperative that we retire the incumbent."

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    Author: Elizabeth Grenier (rbr)