It’s easy to be pessimistic about US politics these days. An estimated 11 billion dollars will be spent in the 2016 election cycle, as government positions and laws are bought and sold to the highest bidder. Ordinary people feel marginalized from a system in which corruption and bribery are essentially legal. I myself became more cynical than ever after spending a year working as a journalist based in Washington, DC. Then, I got a phone call from this guy...
When Crazy Inspires
Charlie Hardy is one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. He’s a 77-year-old former Catholic priest who lived in a cardboard shack in a Venezuelan slum for eight years. In 2014, Charlie returned to his hometown of Cheyenne, Wyoming and was shocked to see homelessness, hunger and poverty. When his attempts to contact the state’s elected officials went unanswered, he decided to run for office himself. Flat broke and living off his $400-a-month social security check, Charlie declared his candidacy for the US Senate. His opponent was Sen. Mike Enzi, an 18-year incumbent with a $3 million war chest. When Charlie called me to let me know what he was doing, I told him he was crazy. But sometimes, crazy can inspire.
Charlie managed to galvanize a ragged band of young volunteers into making waves in Wyoming's elections and challenging the country's political establishment. I too was infected by Charlie’s unbridled optimism and felt compelled to tell his incredible story by making a documentary film about him called Charlie vs Goliath. Like Charlie’s campaign, this documentary has been powered by people, not money. I was joined by two other filmmakers, Jihan Hafiz and Julia Muldavin, who generously volunteered their time, traveling to Wyoming to join me on the campaign trail. Together, we’ve shot more than 300 hours of footage since 2014. Meanwhile, I've been working for more than a year with a top-notch editor, Cameron Clendaniel, and we now have a complete rough cut. But the last stages of post-production are costly, and we need your help to finish the film. If we meet our goal, we should complete the documentary by the end of September, allowing for the possibility of releasing the film before the November 2016 elections.
The Power of Hope in Cynical Times
Throughout the summer and fall of 2014, I followed Charlie and his ragtag volunteers around the state of Wyoming, spending many nights sleeping in a tent or in the campaign bus. I was determined to document Charlie’s story because I felt it would inspire many others, in this country and beyond, to consider how they can make a difference even when the odds seem exceedingly long. In these deeply cynical times, it is more important than ever to remain optimistic. And while Charlie vs Goliath is a story about the problems facing this country’s political system, at its core, the film is about the power of hope, persistence and faith in the face of overwhelming obstacles.
Two years after his bid for the US Senate, Charlie is running for office again in 2016, this time for the US House of Representatives. Charlie has rallied an even larger group of volunteers and if he wins the Democratic primary on August 16, he will likely face off against Liz Cheney, Dick Cheney’s daughter, in the general election. This Kickstarter campaign will run parallel to Wyoming’s primary elections, and throughout the coming weeks we will keep you updated not only on the progress of our documentary, but on this exciting campaign run by Charlie and his passionate volunteers.
Meet the Team
Reed Lindsay (Director/DP) is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist who has traveled around the world pursuing his passion to tell stories of people's struggles against injustice and abuse of power. He lived in a poor neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for more than four years and worked as a foreign correspondent in Cairo and Benghazi during the Arab Spring. He met Charlie 13 years ago in Latin America, and they have been close ever since. Reed also grew up in the Mountain West, in a small town in Idaho, but he had never been to Cheyenne until Charlie convinced him to check out his US Senate campaign in 2014. Reed planned on spending a few weeks in Wyoming, but was so inspired by Charlie and his young volunteers, he has dedicated the last two years to making this documentary.
Jihan Hafiz (Assistant Director) is a filmmaker and journalist with nearly a decade of experience filming documentaries and in-depth reports on the world’s biggest news events, from the Arab Spring to Brazil’s World Cup. Jihan has excelled at nearly every role in the production process, working as an anchor, reporter, producer, camerawoman and editor. In 2012, she was co-winner of an Emmy as a sound recordist for the HBO documentary In Tahrir Square. She covered the Egyptian uprising from start to finish and immediately afterward crossed into Libya, co-directing the film Benghazi Rising, which was nominated for a Rory Peck Award as best documentary in 2011. She covered the economic crises in Spain and Greece, told the stories of Syrian refugees in Turkey, filed in-depth features from Venezuela and Honduras, and filmed a documentary in Rwanda.
Julia Muldavin (Assistant DP) has chased stories around the world, from the streets of Brazil to the open plains of Wyoming, as a multimedia journalist and filmmaker. She lived in the heart of Santiago when the student uprisings erupted in 2011 and spent most of 2014 in Brazil prior to the World Cup. She worked on short and long-form video content around the #BlackLivesMatter movement in Oakland, California and followed the movement on their most recent trip to Brazil to bring attention to the escalating human rights crises in Rio de Janeiro's favelas. She has worked as a producer, videographer, video editor, and translator for breaking news, short documentaries, and feature length films. She most recently lived in Quito, Ecuador as a Video Producer and Editor for teleSUR English, covering world events with an emphasis on Latin America.
Cameron Clendaniel (Editor) has a deep passion for building stories through film. For over a decade, Cameron's award-winning film editing work has aired on national broadcast outlets like PBS and the Sundance Channel, as well as on many European and international channels. His films have screened at some of the world's top festivals, including HotDocs, Sheffield, CPH:DOX, Montreal, and DOCNYC. Cameron is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in Studio Art and Political Science — and it's where he first found his passion for film editing on a Media 100 system. Born in Boston, Cameron has worked as an editor in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Germany, and now lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.
Mithun Pramanik (Assistant Editor) is a Kolkata-based filmmaker with more than a decade of experience covering regional news and making fiction and documentary films. Mithun played a key role as a producer in the film 'Fists of Fury' which won a Gracie award for Al Jazeera America in 2014. He has dedicated much of the last four years filming India's indigenous peoples, known as Adivasis. His 40-minute film ‘Vision Through Images’ about Adivasis painting was screened in 10 film festivals and won Best Jury Award in 2012 at the Affma Film Festival in Kerala. His coverage in India ranges from women’s rights, to politics and human rights issues.
Nicolas Rossier (Consulting Producer) is an award-winning filmmaker. His work has appeared on more than 50 US and foreign television channels, including PBS, NHK, CNN International, Al Jazeera, Spiegel TV as well as Swiss, French and Swedish Public television. He has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian and NPR, among others. His films have been screened at top film festivals and venues around the world including the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the International Documentary Film Festival (IDFA), Hot Docs, and many more.
Kim Borba (Impact Producer) is a filmmaker with a background in international development and a passion for social issue documentary. Her directorial debut, Noise Runs, was awarded Best Director by the Social Impact Media Awards. At Big Mouth Films, she worked on features like 1971 (AFI Docs, IDFA, Tribeca, Sheffield) and E-Team (Sundance, True/False, Full Frame, Hot Docs). As Impact Producer for Pushing the Elephant (PBS’ Independent Lens), she used the award-winning documentary to engage partners like UN Women, Amnesty International, and lawmakers on Capitol Hill in direct action around gender-based violence in the DRC. She has lived and worked in Haiti, Thailand, Korea and Ecuador, collaborating with grassroots groups on social justice issues like access to education and participatory democracy.
Risks and challenges
With production completed and post-production in the homestretch, the remaining risks are minimal. The biggest challenge ahead will be distributing and marketing the film so that it will have the greatest impact possible. If we reach our Kickstarter goal, we know we can make Charlie vs Goliath as compelling and powerful as it deserves to be.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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