Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Two Documentaries With Michigan Ties

This is a golden time for documentary films. Over the past several days, discussion has revolved around the ABC docudrama The Path to 9/11, and earlier this summer Al Gore's film about global warming, An Inconvient Truth, did well at the box office. I'm not surprised that filmmakers are producing documentaries about the war or climate change, but I was surprised to learn about two new documentaries that touch us here in Michigan. Even more interesting is the fact that both films touch the DeVos family.

Robert Greenwald's film, Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, uncovers the connections between private corporations making a killing in Iraq and the decision makers who allow them to do so. One profiteer the film focuses on is Blackwater Security, which was founded by Erik Prince. Erik's sister Betsy was the head of the Michigan Republican Party until early 2005, and she is married to Dick DeVos, Amway heir and Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate. There are numerous sources and articles about Blackwater, but you may remember the company's name because they're being sued by the families of the contractors killed in Falluja in March 2004. The DVD documentary goes on sale September 26 and grassroots screening is October 8th-14th.

The second documentary with links to Michigan and DeVos I learned about from Zack @ Pohlitics. BELIEVE takes a satirical yet critical look at a fictional MLM company, Believe Industries and its devotees. And while the story is fictional, much of BELIEVE’s dialogue and events are based on the actual experiences of Loki Mulholland (writer and director), a former Amway distributor.

Zack recently interviewed Mulholland and asked him questions about DeVos, Amway and the gubernatorial election. Here's the exchange [emphasis added]:
POHLITICS: Since your film skewers multi-level marketing firms, do you see anything wrong with Michigan electing someone like DeVos as its next governor, considering that he used to run one of the largest MLMs on the planet?

LM: I’m an independent and I don’t tell people who I’d vote for but I can tell you who I wouldn’t vote for and that’s DeVos. Amway’s business culture is one of, in essence, taking advantage of people’s dreams and having them part with their money. When you have better odds of succeeding in Vegas than you do in multi-level marketing something’s not right. And, I think it’s fair to say, DeVos has been raised in that culture. You really can’t separate the two.

I think Amway and the DeVos camp have realized this and that’s why Amway has been airing their, “I am Amway” ads. If people are going to rightfully associate DeVos with Amway and 83% of the state has an unfavorable opinion of Amway they have to do something to change people’s opinions. It’s just like Bush and the War in Iraq. As the war goes, so goes Bush. As Amway goes… so goes DeVos.
That's the quote, folks, from a former Amway distributor.

If you're interested in seeing BELIEVE, they're doing a special screening in Lansing on the 21st of September. Then they're releasing the film October 13th in Detroit, Lansing, Flint, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids. Following it's debut in Michigan,the film will make a 20 city whistle stop tour of the country with a future release date in the Mountain West region in February/March. I BELIEVE I'll make it a point to see both of these films.


Zack Pohl said...

Thanks for the plug! I can't wait to see BOTH of these movies.

Lew Scannon said...

Where's Beleive playing in Grand rapids? UICA?

Kathy said...

Lew, I'm not sure where in G.R. the movie will play, but I'll keep checking as the date draws closer and let you know.

Zack, if you hear where the movie will play in G.R. give me or Lew a shout. Thanks.

Libby Spencer said...

You always find the best links Kathy. I'm hoping Believe will play the circuit around here.