Being that 2013 is both Richard Nixon's Centennial (he was born 100 years ago in 1913) and 2013 is the 40 year anniversary of the televised Watergate hearings, NFF took time to speak with Penny Lane, director of NFF18 film Our Nixon, screening Thursday 6/27 and Friday 6/28 at 2:00pm.
Our Nixon is a fresh take on an American legend: throughout Richard Nixon’s presidency, three of his top White House aides obsessively documented their experiences with Super 8 home movie cameras. Young, idealistic and dedicated, they had no idea that a few years later they’d all be in prison. This unique and personal visual record, created by H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin, was seized by the FBI during the Watergate investigation, then filed away and forgotten for almost 40 years. Our Nixon is an all-archival documentary presenting those home movies for the first time, along with other rare footage, creating an intimate and complex portrait of the Nixon presidency as never seen before.
NFF: What came first: an interest in Nixon, or finding the footage you used?
Lane: The latter. Brian (my coproducer who also had the original idea for the film) heard about the home movies and the whole thing began from there. The fact that neither Brian nor I had a big particular investment in Nixon or agenda I think gave us the distance to do something new and different.
NFF: What lessons do you think we can learn in the current political climate after reviewing the state of affairs in the 60s and 70s?
Lane: Everything is the same. Equally, everything is different.
NFF: Did seeing Nixon in this more personal light change or create an opinion about him you previously had or didn't have? What was the biggest thing that surprised you about this group of men?
Lane: I certainly have a much broader, more nuanced and more sympathetic view of Nixon and his men.
NFF: What do you hope audiences learn or take away from this film?
Lane: What you take away from the film will depend largely on what you bring into it. But regardless of where you start, I hope you'll find the film both entertaining and challenging. Ultimately the goal of the film is to humanize the characters in this very well known story. It's important intellectual work!