Documentarian Laura Poitras Slams Hillary Clinton Docs: It’s ‘Alarming’ to See Festivals ‘Whitewashing’ History

Documentarian Laura Poitras is calling out the Toronto International Film Festival and Venice Film Festival for providing a “platform” to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Oscar winner Poitras criticized the TIFF and Venice programmers for not asking “hard questions” as to the purpose of the former First Lady’s film endeavors. Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton attended both Venice and TIFF to launch AppleTV+ docuseries “Gutsy,” as well as support “In Her Hands,” directed by Tamana Ayazi and Marcel Mettelsiefen and produced by the Clinton family.

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“Hillary Clinton was actively involved in the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Poitras stated during TIFF’s Doc Conference (via Variety). “She supported the escalation of troops. And I really find it troubling that this is all being forgotten and we’re providing a platform.”

Poitras discussed the prosecution of Julian Assange, saying “there is nothing more serious that threatens the First Amendment, not just in [America], but also threatens journalism globally.” The WikiLeaks founder is facing extradition to the United States where he will be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for his role in publishing revelations about U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Clinton served as Secretary of State in the Barack Obama administration during the leak from Assange.

“This is literally the most important issue facing journalism globally right now,” Poitras stated. “And it’s alarming to see some of the most powerful people in the world, such as Hillary Clinton, walking a red carpet at Venice, and at TIFF, and saying nothing.”

According to Poitras, including the premieres of Clinton’s documentaries is akin to “engaging in a kind of whitewashing” to benefit the former first family.

“Documentary is journalism,” the “Citizenfour” documentarian said, having made a documentary on exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden. “Hard questions should be asked. We stand for facts and holding people accountable. And I don’t understand why there isn’t more interrogation — we really have to look at what this means for the state of documentary.”

Poitras’ latest film “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” centers on artist and activist Nan Goldin; the feature won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

Poitras summed up, “The U.S. government’s effort to indict and prosecute Assange is, I would say, not dissimilar to imprisoning Jafar Pahani,” citing the programming of “No Bears” alongside Clintons’ “Gutsy.”

IndieWire’s Kristen Lopez noted that the AppleTV+ docuseries feels “heavy-handed” with moments that “feel too forced.”

“It’s easy to understand why the show would like to remind audiences that the Clintons are just folks, especially after the last six years of especially vitriolic political turmoil,” Lopez wrote in the review. “After decades of criticisms against Hillary Clinton, warranted and not, the show attempts to take audiences behind the curtain and show the pain and hurt the Clinton women have endured, only to come out smiling in the end. But it’s hard not to see these lighter moments on the show as pretty cringe-inducing.”

Lopez continued, “That moment with Hillary talking about Chelsea’s love of rap music almost plays like the Clintons are reminding the audience that they appreciate people of color, or at least that Chelsea is cool and hip because she listens to that music. Yes, we know Hillary Clinton loves pantsuits, but she never seems to criticize or look deeper at why people think that. She tells a story about her adopting the suits as a means of preventing photographers from taking photos up her skirt, but she fails to note how her embracing of it comes off as unknowing parody. Or perhaps she does know this and just doesn’t want to do anything that smells of self-criticism — that happens frequently on ‘Gutsy.'”

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