Larry Flynt for President
TYPE: Documentary Feature
Larry Flynt, the self-proclaimed 'smut peddler who cares,' challenged Ronald Reagan for the presidency in 1984. In a campaign to expose political corruption and hypocrisy, he criss-crossed the country in his gold plated wheelchair taking his platform from the highest courts to the lowest prisons.
Told through primary sources, personal archives and investigative satire, this prescient story of America's most misunderstood radical comes at a time when parody truly has become reality.
The prince of porn awakes from a five year slumber when he undergoes an operation that severs the nerves in his spine. Out of pain for the first time since the attempt on his life, it's now 1983. Times have changed. "Greed is Good" has replaced "Peace & Love." Ronald Reagan is running the show. The country is in distress.
Larry takes back the reigns & announces that he will run for president in the 1984 election. He appoints Russell Means as his running mate, ropes in Timothy Leary, Dennis Hopper and Terry Southern as writers and opens his doors to a wide assortment of dissenters and literary outlaws. Absurdity is what Flynt thrives on -- the circus of American politics taken to extreme.
Before Larry was politicized, he was just a savvy club owner. He met his match in Althea, a 17-yr-old runaway. They married, she became his business partner and together they would blast American puritanical values wide open, challenging the country's definition of obscenity.
With Althea by his side, Flynt goes on the warpath, fueled with deep pockets and a "fuck you" attitude. He launches The Rebel, an investigative weekly. He demands transparency of elected officials stating that, as long as politicians are being blackmailed, there will be no true democracy.
Larry goes on a spree, buying & selling the information of the day. He acquires a tape that shows an FBI sting operation. When pressed to reveal his source, he adamantly refuses, citing his journalistic right. Criss-crossing the country, he uses the media as his soapbox. When the press abandons him, he organizes pickets protesting the blackout. At the height, Larry flies to Dallas for the anniversary of JFK's assassination, promising to expose the people behind it. With full motorcade, Larry re-enacts the assassination, except with ketchup splattered on his face in lieu of blood when passing the grassy knoll.
His energy is relentless, yet Althea is fading. In the grip of her own addiction, she finally agrees to treatment. She is diagnosed with AIDS. In 1983 a death sentence. Larry shames the government for the intrusion of religion into politics and the bedroom. He promises that when elected, his first job will be to eliminate sexual ignorance and re-build the wall between church and state.
The law has something else in mind. Flynt is fined $10,000 a day as long as he refuses to reveal his source. He enlists models to carry laundry bags of crumpled $1 bills and drop them on the courthouse floor. The judge is not amused. Finally when Flynt shows up wearing the American flag as a diaper, he is given 15 months in federal prison. The offense: contempt of court and desecration of the American flag. Larry serves 6 months and is subjected to all forms of interrogation and abuse from the guards. When he comes out, he recedes from the spotlight, his stint as political hopeful over. However, never one to cower from defeat, his career as political dissenter and civil rights defender is far from finished.
Having filmed what would come to fit into 20 boxes of footage surrounding Flynt’s run for president, my uncle Steve Lindsey grabbed whatever he could before Flynt's house was raided by the FBI, stuffed it in the trunk of his station wagon and locked it away -- where it would remain for more than 30 years.
When Lindsey told me about his short stint as documentarian to Larry Flynt, I had to ask him what happened to the footage. The fact that it has been gathering dust in a storage unit in the Valley for the length of my lifetime sparked my curiosity even more. At first hesitant, Steve then called me up one morning saying, “If you want it, come and get it.” And so I drove a pickup truck deep into the Valley and hauled 20 boxes of archival gold back to my house.
The style, integrity and challenges of making an archival documentary interest me tremendously, and I believe that this particular narrative choice can be a powerful one. However, archival visuals can only go so far. Our archives also include an enormous amounts of audio recordings provided to us by Flynt himself. These raw nuggets of primary audio documentation allow us to explore animation and graphics - appropriate because of Larry's history of political satire and the infamy of his own cartoons.
During my research speaking with Larry Flynt and others who lived it, a fuller picture of the the story has emerged. Colorful anecdotes and reflections on that period are brought into focus with the prospective of time. They give the story's complexity clarity and the captured events context. With that in mind, the decision to conduct current day interviews was made.
Weaving together 3/4'' tape with film, photographs, graphics, animation and new footage will give the film the feeling of an American crazy quilt. Embracing the mixed mediums, we are using it to our advantage and creating a singular style.
Larry Flynt is a fascinating character, full of contradictions, with a talent for turning the outrageous into something strangely plausible. In essence, he is complex- tragic and comic at the same time. With the access we have to these archives and the characters behind the history, this documentary arrives at a time where the country is ripe for a work of such irreverence and historical acuity.
Nadia Szold - Director
After reading Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, Nadia Szold formed a theatre troupe at the age of 17, calling it Cojones Company. Fourteen plays later, she founded Cinema Imperfecta out of her apartment in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Hope & Anchor, Thievery, The Persian Love Cake and Some Kinda Fuckery were the first short films produced and directed under its banner over a couple years spent between Paris and New York. During that time she also worked for Robin O'Hara and Scott Macaulay of Forensic Films. Her award winning first feature, Joy de V. starring Evan Louison, Josephine de La Baume and Claudia Cardinale, premiered at Slamdance in 2013 to critical acclaim and a nod from the Jury. Her follow up feature Mariah, starring Dakota Goldhor and once again Mr. Louison was shot in Mexico during the recent rise of vigilante groups reclaiming regions previously controlled by the cartels.
Szold is currently working on two documentaries, CUT TO: the quick and Larry Flynt for President, an archival investigation into the nature of satire through the words & actions of one of America's most misunderstood radicals.
Mark Lipson - Producer
After attending NYU Film School, Mark Lipson came to Los Angeles to pursue photography and producing in film and television. He developed and associate produced the original Children of the Corn feature, followed by Almost You, starring Griffin Dunne and Brooke Adams, for Fox Classics. While in Texas, shooting stills for David Byrne’s film, True Stories, he met Errol Morris and went on to produce three of Errol’s films: The Thin Blue Line, Fast Cheap and Out of Control and Tabloid. Currently Mr. Lipson consults as executive producer and post production supervisor on numerous Indie Features such as Standard Operating Procedure, Countdown to Zero, This Space Available, The Source Family and this year's Cannes, Telluride and Toronto International Film Festival darling, Red Army. His most recent film as Executive Producer, In Football We Trust, is a documentary feature following four Tongan high school football players and NFL hopefuls that premiered at Sundance 2015.
Steve Lindsey - Executive Producer
Steve Lindsey is an American record producer, songwriter, music publisher, and executive with experience in the music industry spanning over three decades. Steve began his career in the music business as a highly skilled studio musician before transitioning to producing pop records. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, he was recognized as one of the industry’s top record producers working with artists such as Celine Dion, Elton John, Bill Joel, Leonard Cohen, Aaron Neville, Randy Travis, Trisha Yearwood, Marvin Gaye, and The Temptations among many others. Steve’s uncanny gift for artist and song development is what distinguished him from the rest of his competition, enabling him to sell well over 30 million records as a producer.
Jonathan Gray - Executive Producer
A practicing attorney since 1990, Jonathan is a dedicated advocate for emerging and established producers, production entities, directors, writers, financiers and distributors in film, television and other media. He has served as production counsel for a vast number of independent films and television shows, guiding clients from rights acquisition through distribution. Jonathan is also an experienced trial lawyer and has produced and executive produced several independent film productions.
Navzad Dabu - Associate Producer
Having just graduated from Boston University, Navzad began working with Cinema Imperfecta this past summer - first as an intern, assisting with editing and research - after Nadia Szold had introduced the ideas behind Larry Flynt for President. Some editing sessions later, working closely with the project's development from its beginnings, he has latched on for the long haul as an associate producer.
As an editor, he worked on the award-winning short Winter/Spring  and has just finished a short that will begin its festival run this spring, called Listeners . He is also the editor of an independent feature, currently in post-production, titled Day Before A Wedding.
Adam Milo Smalley - Music Editor
Adam Smalley, a native of Hollywood, California,has produced, supervised and edited the music on over 100 films, including “The Lion King”, “Gladiator” “Mission Impossible” “How to Train your Dragon” Kung Fu Panda, and “The Twilight Saga”. He was awarded the first ever Golden Reel award for music editing on "The Lion King"
In 2010, Adam wrote and directed his first short film entitled “I do”, which won the Silver Screen Nevada film festival, the Newport Beach, New Orleans, and Fort Lauderdale festivals.
A confirmed “foodie”, Adam is also partners with Jimmy Shaw, in the Mexican food chain called “Loteria” here in Los Angeles.
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