Synopsis by Josh Ralske
Documentary filmmaker Rachel Boynton follows the machinations of the political consulting firm Greenberg Carville Shrum as they work on an election campaign in South America that goes terribly awry. The film's title, Our Brand Is Crisis, comes from the consultants' efforts to sell the voters of Bolivia on the idea that the country faced an imminent economic and political crisis, and needed to turn to the experienced hand of their candidate, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, affectionately known as "Goni." Goni had been president in the 1990s, and had overseen a type of privatization of Bolivia's economy (including a large natural gas reserve) known as "Capitalization," through which a large percentage of the national companies were sold to private interests, with some of the money going toward social security and health-care plans. With Goni lagging in the polls, GCS, whose most recognizable public face is James Carville, is shown conducting focus groups and strategy meetings. It becomes clear that Bolivians see his presidency as a failure, because they feel he sold out their interests, and failed to produce the jobs that he promised Capitalization would bring. Goni's campaign eventually "goes negative," trying to draw suspicion to the leading candidate, Manfred Reyes Villa, because of his wealth and his military background. The negative campaigning works, to a degree, but it also makes a more formidable candidate of the left-leaning Evo Morales, a former leader of the coca growers union, whose campaign also gets a shot in the arm from a smear from the U.S. ambassador. Our Brand Is Crisis, Boynton's directorial debut, was shown at New Directors/New Films, presented by the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in 2005.
American [nationality], Bolivia, democracy, high-stakes, influence, political-advisor, political-campaign, President, re-election, strategy