Death of a President, opened to a warm reception at the Toronto international film festival on Sunday and has now sold its US distribution rights for $1 million.
The fictional British television film is shot in the style of a traditional documentary and uses footage of the US president during three visits to Chicago to create the scenes that lead up to the president being shot.
Gabriel Range, the director, creator and producer of the film, uses special digital effects to superimpose the head of the president on that of an actor pretending to be shot, and he creates a flowery eulogy delivered by “president” Dick Cheney at the funeral.
The movie opens with demonstrations against Bush as he visits Chicago in 2007. As he leaves a hotel after delivering a speech, he is shot by a sniper in a nearby building.
A police hunt leads to the arrest of a Palestinian man on dubious evidence, who is later convicted and imprisoned even as the facts point to another person as having committed the crime.
“I really don’t think that anyone would get the idea of assassinating Bush from this film”
Gabriel Range, director of Death of a President
“The reaction of the general public was very good,” Range said.
“People didn’t know what to expect. Our film has a very striking premise, but it is not sensational or gratuitous. I hope people will see it as a balanced film and compelling drama. It is an oblique look at the ways the United States has changed since 9/11. We use the lens of the future to explain the past.”
The 93-minute film’s subject matter has led to protests in the United States, especially from conservatives.
Range says he has received five or six death threats.
“I think the film makes it clear it would really be a horrific event. There have been plenty of fictional films about assassinations, so this is not the first in that sense,” he said.
“I really don’t think that anyone would get the idea of assassinating Bush from this film.”
The film is due to run on Britain’s More4 channel and will probably be shown widely in the US after the distribution deal with Nationwide Films which also handled Mel Gibson’s equally provocative movie The Passion of the Christ.