Hot Docs 2017: PACmen

The men behind Dr. Ben Carson’s failed bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination are followed in PACmen. Political Action Committees or Super PACs are fundraising organisations that back political candidates. Two Super-PACS, Extraordinary America and The 2016 Committee, make it there goal to make celebrity African-American neurosurgeon, particular after he showed prowess in a debate with President Obama. However, despite a strong start to the campaign, Carson’s bid begins to fall apart as his political inexperience begins to show.

PACmen, from Australian documentary filmmaker Luke Walker, is simultaneously a look at Ben Carson’s failed bit for the 2016 Republican nomination, as well an expose of the Super PACs that run political campaigns behind the scenes. Ben Carson was initially seen as a major anti-establishment candidate, who can be seen as an alternative for career politicians. However, a combination of bad press and controversial comments by Carson begins to derail the campaign and move the anti-establishment vote to another candidate named Donald Trump.

In many ways it can be said that PACmen can be seen as this year’s Weiner, in how in centers around a failed political campaign. However, this less about Ben Carson’s campaign itself about more about the people behind the campaign, who try to raise money, while hosting movie nights that screen Carson’s made-for-TV biopic, and regularly pray for his good fortune in the campaign. Overall, PACmen is a very interesting look at what goes on behind the scenes of a US Presidential campaign, even if it is one that is ultimately not successful.

8 / 10 stars


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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).