Activism

Robert Greenwald on His Free Anti-NRA Film: 'It Should Be as Widely Spread as Possible'

The film will be shown for free in church basements, colleges, state capitals and later available on Facebook and YouTube.

The rollout for Robert Greenwald's new documentary, "Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA," is targeting pastors, politicians, domestic violence counselors, African American leaders and others angry over the high body counts and broken lives that have shaken cities and seeped across the heartland.

The film, which premieres Tuesday, will be shown for free in church basements, colleges and state capitals and later will be available on Facebook, YouTube and other outlets. The distribution campaign mixes old-school activism with the vast reach of social media, a strategy Greenwald's Brave New Films used on previous films that skewered Fox News, the Koch brothers, Wal-Mart and President Obama's drone program. 

Releasing "Making a Killing" in an election year that is reshaping American politics is an attempt to spur audiences to protest the National Rifle Assn. and pressure lawmakers for stricter gun regulations. The tactic is emblematic of a new era when multiple platforms, from a 30-second snippet on Twitter to a graphic on Instagram, allow documentary filmmakers to bypass studios and traditional distributors in an egalitarian blend of art and political causes.

"There's very few gatekeepers, which to me, coming from the commercial world where I spent 20 years dealing with good gatekeepers, bad gatekeepers and psychopaths, is the wonder of the new world," said Greenwald, whose films include "The Burning Bed," starring Farrah Fawcett. "That's beyond liberating. That is the revolution."

Founded in 2004, Brave New Films, a nonprofit organization, had revenues of $2.67 million in 2015. The company's annual report listed $1.5 million in foundation money, including grants from the Ford Foundation and the Bohemian Foundation; $934,000 from major donors, including former civil rights lawyer Guy Saperstein; and more than $214,000 in small donations raised largely on-line.

Jeffrey Fleishman writes for the LA Times, and can be reached by email at [email protected]

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