Best of Enemies(2015)
Documentary looking back at televised debates in the US between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley during the Democratic and Republican National Conventions of 1968. For ten nights, the ideologically opposed intellectuals squared off, in a no-holds-barred contest of ideas and insults that helped shape the combative style of political coverage right through to the present.... More
Footage from their debates sits alongside archival content and new interviews that give further context to how these shows shaped Western political culture. Co-director Morgan Neville previously won an Oscar for Twenty Feet from Stardom.
“William F. Buckley, Jr. was a leading light of the new conservative movement. A Democrat and cousin to Jackie Onassis, Gore Vidal was a leftist novelist and polemicist. Armed with deep-seated distrust and enmity, Vidal and Buckley believed each other’s political ideologies were dangerous for America. Like rounds in a heavyweight battle, they pummeled out policy and personal insult—cementing their opposing political positions. Their explosive exchanges devolved into vitriolic name-calling. It was unlike anything TV had ever broadcast, and all the more shocking because it was live and unscripted. Viewers were riveted. ABC News' ratings skyrocketed. And a new era in public discourse was born.” (Sundance Film Festival)Hide
BY Steve Newall Flicks Writer
Nearly 50 years after the nightly duels between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley during 1968’s Democratic National Convention, one can still smell their hatred for one another, as well as see the enduring impact of these broadcasts on our current affairs landscape. Turning political discussion into televised bloodsport for perhaps the first time, the footage is as fascinating as the pair’s mutual antipathy. This account of their sparring, and the behind-the-scenes efforts that went into it, is essentially as good a boxing documentary as you’ll see this year – even as no fist actually connects with its intended victim.