Director of Sarah Palin documentary 'The Undefeated' says he will release an uncut version -- 'I took out all sorts of violence'
"The Undefeated," Stephen Bannon's documentary about the emergence of Sarah Palin on the national political scene, aims to show what the filmmaker calls a "pop-culture beat-down" of the former Alaska governor.
Although the film has been tagged with only a PG-13 rating for "brief strong language" by the Motion Picture Assn. of America, Bannon said he has created an explicit cut of the film that demonstrates that beat-down in more graphic terms. "I took out all sorts of violence and masked the vulgarity for the theatrical release because I wanted families to be able to see the film," Bannon told 24 Frames on Wednesday.
In the cut that will be shown in AMC movie theaters beginning July 15, Madonna, Louis C.K. and Pamela Anderson are among those shown in public appearances to be using epithets about the former vice presidential candidate.
Bannon said the new cut would feature things like "crucifixions, lynching and suicides," but declined to say who was behind these comments or where they appeared, saying only vaguely that they came from "Facebook and Twitter."
"People think Tina Fey is the worst of what's out there, and they have no idea," he said, referring to the actress' impersonations of Palin on "Saturday Night Live."
Of course, politicians on both the right and left have often been subject to hateful speech and worse: President Obama has been the target of racist language and threats from various quarters, and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was the victim of actual violence in Arizona. But Bannon said he believes Palin has been a singular target of hatemongers.
The filmmaker said his alternative version would be released to television via on-demand platforms and a deal with DirecTV. A spokesman for the satellite operator did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment.
Bannon said he had initially gone to the MPAA with the harder-edged version, but "I was told I'd get much more than an R, so it would have to go unrated" to get released. (Filmmakers with racy or controversial material often opt to leave their films unrated rather than suffer the stigma and potential distribution challenges of an NC-17.)
But a source familiar with the MPAA submission process who asked not to be identified because that process is confidential said the group received just one cut, which wound up getting the PG-13.
Bannon said he aimed to make a movie that didn't wade into ideological questions and simply showed how a woman worked her way to the top of the political heap, but one that also subverts assumptions about her politics.
"In the popular imagination Gov. Palin is a lightweight who's an ideologue, and the reality is so different from that," Bannon said. "This is a woman who's the kind of political leader we need today because she builds a coalition," Bannon said, citing, among other things, her support of energy legislation in Alaska that angered large oil companies.
Palin created a stir at the premiere in Iowa on Tuesday night when she said in an interview that Hollywood was "full of hate."
Although Bannon said that Hollywood was a secondary focus of his film, he believes that when it comes to Palin, the entertainment business ignores performers who cross the line of civility. "How does Hollywood make Tracy Morgan beg forgiveness and go to reeducation for his homophobic comments, but then no one says a word when he calls Sarah Palin 'good masturbation material?' " Bannon said, referring to the actor's remark on a TNT NBA broadcast. "It's hypocrisy. Let's call it what it is."
Photo: Sarah Palin at the "Undefeated" premiere in Pella, Iowa. Credit: Andrea Melendez /Associated Press