Video Services Corp.,
When TV’s ‘War of the Words’ began –
Buckley vs. Vidal makes history all over again in the acclaimed
Best Of Enemies
Directed by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon
2015 Sundance Film Festival
2015 SXSW Film Festival
2015 Hot Docs International Documentary Festival
Opens in Toronto – July 31 – TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX (350 King St. W.)
Watch the trailer: http://trailers.apple.com/ca/vsc/bestofenemies/
“Thoroughly engrossing and surprisingly entertaining.” – Variety
“Wickedly entertaining. The directors avoid picking sides and instead enjoy the show.” – New York Post
“A riveting gabfest.” – New York Magazine
“Riveting. A delicious spectacle.” – Newsweek
“If you like witty repartee among intellectuals, it’s hard to see how you could have more fun than watching this movie. Highly entertaining.” – Wired
The year was 1968. America was on fire. Against a backdrop of two of the most flag waving and flag burning political conventions in U.S. history, beleaguered last place ABC News thought they could fight NBC and CBS by adding some good natured intellectual sparring to their coverage.
In the red corner, the arch and arch-conservative commentator, media gadfly and upper East Side socialite, William F. Buckley. In the blue, the liberal, flamboyantly gay, controversial novelist and intellectual snob, Gore Vidal. No two men in the United States at that time had more vocabulary in their debating arsenal.
The unnaturally natural opponents came out swinging – above and below the belt – five rounds at each of the Republican Convention in Miami that nominated Richard Nixon and the infamous Democratic Convention in Chicago that set up Hubert Humphrey for a fall in that year’s election. ABC merely turned their cameras on and let the sparks fly. When it was over, Buckley was bloodied but unbowed, while Vidal claimed victory at some cost to his reputation and future.
Many years later, this bout survives not only as hard evidence of the cultural war that was taking place in the streets, but in the context of the history of network news, it was the first noticeable tear in the seam of staunch stoicism that defined the gravitas-laden worlds of Cronkite, Huntley, Brinkley and Howard K. Smith. From those debates, it was a slippery slope to the cult of cable celebrity and “loudest voice wins” shoutfest on the 24-hour news channels where decorum is not a consideration.
Such is the thesis of Oscar®-winning co-director Morgan Neville’s documentary Best Of Enemies, which opens in Toronto on July 31 at TIFF Bell Lightbox from Video Services Corp (VSC), with other Canadian cities to follow.
At the core of Neville and Gordon’s scrupulously archived and informed documentary is the fully-restored trove of original broadcast footage and supporting period visuals that take the viewer right back to the era when the 6:30 nightly newscast was must-see viewing. Add remembrances by surviving producers, perspective by the likes of Dick Cavett and Christopher Hitchens, and the voices of Kelsey Grammer and John Lithgow to properly convey the tone of Vidal and Buckley, and you have a film that comes at you more like an acid-tinged media flashback than a sepia-toned time capsule.
Nominated for a Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance and SXSW festivals respectively, Best Of Enemies has emerged as one of the best-regarded political documentaries in recent years.
Neville was nominated for three Grammys for his music-themed documentaries Muddy Waters: Can’t Be Satisfied, Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, and Johnny Cash’s America. He won an Oscar for another, Twenty Feet From Stardom. Director Robert Gordon collaborated with Neville on the Grammy-nominated documentaries, and won a special jury prize at the Memphis Indie Film Festival for Very Extremely Dangerous, his portrait of rocker-turned-criminal Jerry McGill.
About Video Services Corp
Founded in 1993 by former rock critic Jonathan Gross, Video Services Corp. (VSC) is a leading independent all-platform film distributor with offices in Toronto and Los Angeles. VSC’s DVD catalogue includes “Corner Gas,” Sharknado, Richard Lewis: Bundle of Nerves, and Don Cherry’s Rock’em Sock’em Hockey series. Recent theatrical releases include Frank, starring Michael Fassbender, Alan Partridge, starring Steve Coogan, Iranian vampire sensation A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Cannes Selection Life Itself, and instant cult classic What We Do In The Shadows. Upcoming releases include The Wolfpack, The Little Death, and Tangerine.