Nick Broomfield: 'The idea of free speech in America is a myth'


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The Independent Online

There is no objective truth or balanced argument in documentaries It's why I felt early on in my career that the audience should see the director come out in front of the camera and say, "This is my subjective view of the argument, take it or leave it." I'm pleased and flattered by how film-makers [such as Louis Theroux and Michael Moore] have since adopted and expanded that style.

There's a difference between being neurotic and obsessed A lot of the making of a film is about being obsessed with detail, which is important. But I do have this infuriating habit of asking people the same question repeatedly until they want to scream.

There's a myth in America that there's free speech One of the side effects of media deregulation there is that you have enormous conglomerate empires whose interests cover so many areas it's not in their interests to report objectively. That became apparent to me when most of the TV networks wouldn't show my [1998] film Kurt & Courtney [investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Kurt Cobain, as they had subsidiary companies that had the rights to Kurt's catalogue.

People over-intellectualise and can get incredibly upright about films After first screening Proud to Be British [in which residents of Beaconsfield spoke their minds on what it meant to be English] I got a lot of complaints from the right-wing community about misusing the national anthem. The head of my film school at the time just said to me, "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke." And it's been my maxim ever since.

What is it about the Republican Party that makes it dominated by evangelical Christians? It's why I made Sarah Palin: You Betcha! [presenting a critical portrait of the former governor of Alaska]. I wanted to learn more about what it's like growing up in a small evangelical community. What most surprised me was what seems to be her belief in evil and how, once people had strayed to the devil's side, she would do anything to obliterate them.

Nick Broomfield, 63, is an award-winning documentary film-maker. 'Sarah Palin: You Betcha!' is in selected cinemas from 9 December and airs on More4 at 10pm on 27 December (