Originally posted at USA Today by Bryan Alexander.
Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary Death of a Nation has hit a new low mark for the controversial filmmaker: It received zero percent positive reviews from critics on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes.
Each reviewer (11 in all) thrashed Death of a Nation (in theaters now), but conservative author-turned-filmmaker D’Souza, 57, says he’s OK with that. The site also shows that fans are solidly behind the politically charged movie, giving it a 90 percent positive audience score.
“With the critics, we’ve hit the bottom of the barrel, for sure,” D’Souza tells USA TODAY. “I have joked before that it’s a mark of my success to make my movie ratings go even lower. That means I have caused more of an intellectual headache for the leftist critics.”
He adds, “If you are on the left watching this movie, you will get a certain amount of ideological indigestion.”
The numbers show an ever-widening “chasm” between professional critics and his devoted audience, D’Souza notes. He saw less of a gap with his 2016 documentary “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party” (4 percent of critics liked it, 80 percent of the audience) or 2012 documentary 2016: Obama’s America (27 percent of critics, 73 percent of the audience).
He says it’s similar to the divisive views Americans have about President Donald Trump. While political watchers pull their hair out over the president’s actions, his base of support stands firmly by him.
“This absurdly big chasm shows one group of people is absolutely outraged and wants to drive a stake into (the movie’s) heart. They are trying to drive away mainstream viewers who might see the movie and be persuaded by it,” says D’Souza. “Meanwhile, the other group of people is fanatic, wildly spreading the word.”
D’Souza, who was pardoned by Trump in May after pleading guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws in 2014, continues his staunch support of the president in the film.
Death of a Nation compares Trump to Abraham Lincoln, especially in dealing with the “smears” of the Democratic Party in their respective eras. Historical re-creations draw parallels between Adolf Hitler’s ideology and the Democratic party at the time.
These political and historical claims have earned the most pointed criticism. “In Death of a Nation, Dinesh D’Souza is no longer preaching to the choir; he’s preaching to the mentally unsound,” writes Variety critic Owen Gleiberman.
The filmmaker acknowledges being “annoyed” by critics who have knocked the dramatic re-creations (called “laughably inept” by Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic).
“The quality is high, but the critics pretend like it’s not,” D’Souza says. “That to me is just intellectually dishonest.”
The documentary made more than $2.3 million in its opening weekend. While it’s a far cry from the $6.5 million earned by Obama’s America in its first weekend of wide release, D’Souza wasn’t displeased. Death of a Nation will again be seen in 1,005 theaters this weekend.
“Look, we made 2.3 million bucks in three days,” D’Souza says. He’s certain he’ll recoup his $6 million in production costs (and more) for his ideologically motivated investors.
He’s also confident the film will be an easy mark for the Razzie Awards, given to the year’s worst films. Hillary’s America earned four, including worst picture.
“I have a nice media room with my movie posters and I have my Razzies proudly displayed,” says D’Souza. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I get more.”
Read more at USA Today.
Lincoln united his party and saved America from the Democrats for the first time. Can Trump—and we—come together and save America for the second time?
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