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PoliWood (2009) More at IMDbPro »

PoliWood -- In this fascinating documentary, legendary Academy Award winning director Barry Levinson sets out to explore the collision and collusion at the intersection between politics and Hollywood. The film gives the viewer a front row seat and backroom access to the most significant Presidential Campaign of the 21st century. Features interviews with high-profile celebrities and powerful political figures. Engaging and powerful, Poliwood gives insider access to the influence Hollywood has over today's political process.


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An in-depth look at the Democratic and Republican national conventions held during the 2008 U.S. Presidential election year. | Add synopsis »
(16 articles)
Barry Levinson To Direct Oklahoma City Bombing Movie 'O.K.C.'
 (From The Playlist. 2 March 2011, 7:16 PM, PST)

Levinson Slams Nyt Critic 'For Her Blatant Inaccuracies'
 (From The Wrap. 10 November 2009, 6:16 PM, PST)

Criticism Is One Thing, Inaccuracy Another
 (From The Wrap. 10 November 2009, 5:48 PM, PST)

User Reviews:
Politics After Television. See more (13 total) »


Richard Abramowitz ... Himself

Stephen Baldwin ... Himself

Annette Bening ... Herself

Ellen Burstyn ... Herself

Rachael Leigh Cook ... Herself

David Crosby ... Himself

Alan Cumming ... Himself

Tim Daly ... Himself
Charlie Daniels ... Himself

Robert Davi ... Himself

Dana Delany ... Herself

Giancarlo Esposito ... Himself

Tom Fontana ... Himself

Danny Glover ... Himself

Anne Hathaway ... Herself

Spike Lee ... Himself

Josh Lucas ... Himself

Matthew Modine ... Himself

Tom Morello ... Himself

Gloria Reuben ... Herself

Susan Sarandon ... Herself

Richard Schiff ... Himself

Ron Silver ... Himself

Sting ... Himself

Lynn Whitfield ... Herself ... Himself

Directed by
Barry Levinson 
Produced by
Robert E. Baruc .... producer
Robin Bronk .... producer
Tim Daly .... producer
Jason Sosnoff .... producer
Cinematography by
Aengus James 
Adam Jandrup 
Film Editing by
Aaron Yanes 
Production Management
Tim Tracy .... production manager
Sound Department
Peter Levin .... sound re-recording mixer
Peter Levin .... supervising sound editor
Thomas Myers .... sound mixer
Alex Noyes .... sound editor
Roar Skau Olsen .... sound mixer
Camera and Electrical Department
Eric Giovon .... camera operator
Aengus James .... cinematographer
Editorial Department
Patrick Inhofer .... colorist
Richard Abramowitz .... thanks
Ted Wallach .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies
  • Fini  post-production facilities

Additional Details

USA:90 min


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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Politics After Television., 28 August 2011
Author: meddlecore from Canada

Poliwood is an interesting documentary by renown filmmaker Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Wag The Dog, Sleepers). In this film he has set out with a number of celebrities, interviewing them about their political affiliations and activities, with hopes of scratching the surface to reveal the ever-blurring boundaries between Celebrity (Hollywood) and Politics. It is essentially looking at how Celebrity influences Politics in a number of ways: from Actors becoming Politicians (Reagan) and vice versa (Gore); to how PR Firms/Mainstream Media Outlets promote and cover Politicians the same way they do celebrities ("they don't sell you the product, they sell you the lifestyle you will inherit"-Sarandon); to how politicians align themselves with Celebrities in order to gain an advantage over their competitors (Obama); and, of course, how all of this affects the decisions of voters.

The film particularly focuses on a group of Hollywood "Elites" that have aligned themselves with a "non-partisan" (clearly liberal leaning) organization called the Creative Coalition, where they work together in order to influence politicians on a variety of issues and promote social programs in the realm of the arts, music, and physical education. The group was founded by Ron Silver in 1989. Some members highlighted in this film include Spike Lee, Susan Sarandon, Anne Hathaway, Ellen Burstyn, Rachael Leigh Cook...and don't worry, there are some Conservatives in there too... like crazy Christian Stephen Baldwin.

The first important revelation comes when Levinson is talking to Susan Sarandon and Ellen Burstyn about an interesting article written by JFK, published in TV Guide in 1959, prior to his running for the Presidency. Now Narrating, Levinson discusses how JFK used this article to outline how the growing influence of Television- and the Hollywood style PR that came with it- was starting to drastically affect America's political culture. Sometimes for good, sometimes for greed.

He compliments this by noting how it was a television speech that Reagan made as an actor in support of Goldwater's presidential bid that led him to politics ; and how TV News, which had been previously operated as a social service, became watered down when it started to require ratings and sell advertising...He even gets an MSNBC anchor to admit that he and everyone but Jim Lehrer are pandering for ratings.

After putting forth his argument and interviewing a bunch of CC members from both ends of the spectrum, Levinson follows the group to both the Democratic and Republican Conventions, where they seek to garner support for their causes while educating themselves about what their opponents are thinking, and why. They are particularly surprised by the Republican Convention where everything is like it is on TV: the politicians fake; the speeches scripted; and the audience there as props to cheer when required. Though, keep in mind, the majority of the group's members allowed themselves to be used as promotional props for Obama's campaign. To be fair, Levinson and the members of the group do acknowledge that, "everything is orchestrated on both sides", as one person states.

I personally found the segments near the end, where the CC sat down with the talking group of Republicans for a "dialogue", and the interview with that bow-tie wearing douche from CNN, to be particularly interesting. The accusations and assumptions made by the group toward the CC members: that because they were actors they had no political knowledge and thus had no right to promote a political agenda, were not only hypocritical (in that they felt that way only because the CC members didn't agree with them), but were actually more applicable to the Conservative minded celebrities, as opposed to the more liberal-minded ones they were degrading in the meeting. You've got to respect the CC members' attempt to dialogue with their ideological enemies, at the very least.

Shot and edited like a homemade documentary, the film offers us a glimpse into what it's like to be a liberal leaning celebrity with a political opinion, as seen through the eyes of Barry Levinson, a liberal leaning celebrity with a political opinion. It must be noted that the film was edited in a way as to ensure that the film's focus would not be on the actual opinions of the Celebrities, but rather on their role as a mechanism of influence. Unlike the organization's non-partisanship, the film does take a partisan stance...but that does not detract from it's value. I quite like the argument that Levinson develops in regards to the technological introduction of Television and how it got us into this mess; in fact, i think it's rather un-debatable. But at the same time, I left feeling that this film was an attempt to vindicate the Celebrities for promoting Obama as the lesser of two evils...despite the fact that they realized both sides are just as fake as Hollywood.

In conclusion, I'll leave you with this quote from Levinson, which pretty much sums everything up: "If they are not Telegenic then they cannot become President of the United States. We are about this far (*shows an inch between his fingers*) from the political version of Miss America." Interesting watch, worth checking out. 6.5 out of 10.

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