Films on Lobbyists

The Best Government Money Can Buy?

Documentary 2009 NR 76 minutes. Just how influential are lobbyists? Francis Megahy writes and directs this absorbing documentary about lobbyists’ role in American politics, the far-reaching implications of their spending on elections and their threat to democracy. In addition to exploring case studies from several industries such as health care and energy, the film features insights from Capitol Hill insiders, former White House officials and more. See Full Review

Citizen Koch

Documentary 2013 NR 1hr25m. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision, this film explores the mounting struggle between money and American democracy.

Fed Up

Documentary 2014 PG 90 minutes. The film focuses on the causes of obesity in the United States. It presents evidence showing that the large quantities of sugar in processed foods are an overlooked root of the problem. It points to the monied lobbying power of “Big Sugar” in blocking attempts to enact effective policies to address the issue. This eye-opening documentary examines the underlying causes behind the obesity epidemic, including the marketing strategies of major U.S. food producers. How did 60% of the country get so fat?  2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight, with 1 in 3 adults considered obese. Childhood obesity has become an ever-more serious medical issue in the United States. The film includes touching video self-portraits by young people who belong to the almost 17 percent of children and adolescents, ages 2 to 19, who are considered obese. The obese parents who raise obese children — why aren’t they in the least bit curious as to how they’ve become 300 pounders when their ancestors were all normal. This film is an expose of the food industry’s pedaling of sugar-rich junk food to kids and the epidemic of obesity that has resulted from it. It rightly points to the chief villain in our food choices–sugar–as addictive and toxic. Sugar is clearly added to food products that historically had none in an effort to elicit a crave factor, so you can’t stop eating them. See Full Review

Killer at Large:
Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat

Documentary 2008 NR 1hr44m. This probing documentary explores the ever-expanding issue of obesity in America from individual, political, scientific and cultural perspectives. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the US today. But how did 60% of the country get so fat?  2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight, with 1 in 3 adults considered obese. Childhood obesity has become an ever-more serious medical issue in the United States. The film includes touching video self-portraits by young people who belong to the almost 17 percent of children and adolescents, ages 2 to 19, who are considered obese. There are poignant moments, such as a 12 year old girl having liposuction. The film gives a range of reasons why we have this issue regarding obesity in America: school junk food, too much sugar, lack of information about high fructose corn syrup, portion sizes, television, intense advertising aimed at children, cozy cartoon characters hawking sugar, parents, food companies, politics, lobbying, greed, and economics. See Full Review

American Addict

Documentary 2013 NR 1hr 29min. The United States’ alarming appetite for prescription drugs is the focus of this sober documentary, which aims to illuminate a national health crisis. The title is misleading — the film is more about unethical practices by the pharmaceutical industry and the gross ineffectiveness of the FDA than it is about addiction to prescribed medications. The over-use of pharmaceuticals in this country is an epidemic, and this is a very good objective source of information. With only five percent of world population, more than 50% of all prescription drugs in the world are used in the US, and 80% of all narcotic prescription drugs are used in the US. The fourth leading cause of death in the US is medications. How can this be normal?? I’ve been reading for years about the actions of the pharmaceutical drug companies, collectively called Big Pharma, and it is nice to have it so well and so thoroughly covered. The facts put forward can be checked and verified quite easily. An excellent and riveting look at how Big Pharma are making America the most prescription-addicted society in the world.  See Full Review

Casino Jack and the United States of Money

Documentary 2010 R 118 minutes. Documentarian Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) turns his acute focus on convicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, reproaching him and other legislators for their negative impact on U.S. politics. Gibney’s film plays less like a dry treatise and more like a high-stakes political thriller, fearlessly examining the ways American policies and political processes are undermined by an endless quest for power.

The Lobbyist’s Playbook

Documentary 60 Minutes 11/06/11. Jack Abramoff, the notorious former lobbyist at the center of Washington’s biggest corruption scandal in decades, spent more than three years in prison for his crimes. Now a free man, he reveals how he was able to influence politicians and their staffers through generous gifts and job offers. He tells Lesley Stahl the reforms instituted in the wake of his scandal have had little effect.

The Warning

Documentary Frontline 2009 NR 54m. A detailed look at the roots of America’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, this “Frontline” documentary exposes why government officials refused to regulate emerging derivatives markets that later ruined global financial systems. Director Michael Kirk focuses special attention on the intriguing story of Brooksley Born, the head of a little-known regulatory agency who fought in vain for the increased oversight of derivatives sales.

Washington Lobbyist Culture

Documentary Bill Moyers Journal Robert G. Kaiser PBS February 20, 2009 57 minutes. In this edition of the Journal, Bill Moyers sits down with The Washington Post’s Robert G. Kaiser, author of So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government, about how the nation’s Capitol has succumbed to lobbyists and turned government into big business. (Moyers also talks with Parker Palmer, founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal, for a conversation about maintaining spiritual wholeness even as the economy and political order seem to be coming apart.)

Mr. Schneider Goes to Washington

Documentary 2007 75 minutes. In a recent CNN poll 67% of American’s said they believe the American government is corrupt. Even more alarming, it seems 99.9% of the population does nothing to change it. Frustrated by Washington and his apathy towards it, Mr. Schneider Goes to Washington to find out if things are as bad as he thinks they are. Sadly, he is not disappointed. Because of their dependence on big business and special interests to finance their political campaigns, almost every decision the President, Vice-President and Members of Congress make is corrupted. After all, there is no bigger issue facing our elected political leaders than getting re-elected. More frightening though, no one seems to care. The average American is more concerned about the next American Idol than the next American President. This isn’t lost on the media, whose news coverage reflects its audience’s preoccupation. The result: a population of uniformed, disengaged and disenfranchised non-voters hold the world’s only super power in check. Are America and the world destined for disaster? Not if Mr. Schneider has anything to say about it. “Throughout the film I kept asking myself, ‘Where is our democracy heading?’ Everyone needs to see this film.” — Lee Iacocca “Not all political documentaries are dull and staid, this one has porn stars. Perhaps it’s what you’d expect from a reality producer, but the result is a virtual makeover of the genre to make it fresh and fun.” — Cucalorus Film Festival “Amazingly Mr. Schneider has made a film about corruption and apathy that is informative, entertaining and enraging.” — New Orleans Film Festival

Granny D Goes to Washington

Documentary 2007 NR 26m. An 89-year-old idealist walks across the United States to demand that lawmakers reduce the role of special interest money in politics.

Sicko

Documentary 2007 PG-13 123 minutes. Michael Moore sets his sights on the plight of the uninsured in this Oscar-nominated documentary that uses Moore’s trademark humor and confrontational style to ask the difficult questions and get to the truth behind the health care crisis. In the world’s richest country, 45 million people have no health insurance, while HMOs grow in size and wealth. Moore also explores the widespread use of antidepressants and their possible link to violence.See Full Review

The American President

Romantic Comedy 1995 PG-13 115 minutes. Widowed U.S. president Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas), one of the world’s most powerful men, can have anything he wants — and what he covets most is Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), a Washington lobbyist. But Shepherd’s attempts at courting her spark wild rumors and decimate his approval ratings in this romantic comedy. Rob Reiner directs, and Michael J. Fox and Martin Sheen co-star. The film was nominated for a Best Score Oscar.

Washington’s Other Scandal

Documentary Frontline 1998. The 1996 presidential campaign was the most expensive in history and the most corrupt since Richard Nixon’s 1974 re-election. Janet Reno has now renewed deliberations over the appointment of an independent prosecutor to examine the campaigns financial abuses, and the McCain/Feingold reform legislation is being debated in the Senate. In a special report with Bill Moyers, Frontline goes behind the headlines to explore how both Democrats and Republicans conspired to evade the laws which limit the amount of money allowed to flow into election campaigns.

The Fixers

Documentary Frontline 1997. As campaign finance scandals dominate the headlines, Frontline correspondent Peter Boyer follows the story of how easily small-time political operators Nora and Gene Lum have used a little money and a lot of moxie to get close to the president. Boyer journeys to Hawaii in search of this husband and wife team of local political fixers, who in two years parlayed a handful of political contributions into millions of dollars of personal wealth and fourteen visits to the White House.

So You Want to Buy a President?

Documentary Frontline 1996. Frontline investigates the expected $500 million flowing into the 1996 presidential campaign. Correspondent Robert Krulwich scrutinizes the generosity of prominent campaign donors whose interests range from bananas to computer chips and reveals what they get for their money.

The Best Campaign Money Can Buy

Documentary Frontline 1992. In 1992, a year when the presidential campaigns cost $400 million, Frontline, in a co-production with the Center for Investigative Reporting, investigates the behind-the-scenes money givers who finance the presidential campaigns and the access and influence they gain with the candidates. Correspondent Robert Krulwich follows the largest contributors to the Bush and Clinton campaigns and traces the impact money has on American politics.

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