In The Brink, documentary filmmaker Alison Klayman trails Steve Bannon from his ouster as Trump’s White House chief strategist following the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville through the 2018 midterm elections, where a number of far-right candidates backed by the ex-Breitbart honcho (and Trump) were defeated, and the Democratic Party flipped 41 seats to gain control of the House of Representatives.
It was a consequential election for Bannon, who’d spent $3 million in digital ads gassing up Trump in the lead-up to the midterms, toured the country preaching the Trump gospel, and even fashioned a documentary film lionizing the former reality-television host. The historical loss by the Republicans all but confirmed his pariah status in U.S. politics.
One of the film’s most explosive moments occurs on the eve of the midterms, as Bannon, pacing about his home in Ugg slippers, is freaking out about the polling results—cursing off his team members and even banging his head against a wall. You can watch it right here, exclusively at The Daily Beast:
“This scene is Bannon frayed and stressed the day before the midterms. He had been traveling nonstop doing events for his c4 ‘Citizens of the American Republic.’ On the other end of the line are his ‘guys,’ aka his strategists and pollsters, haphazardly running through numbers and theories about various states and districts,” explains Klayman. “Bannon had been saying for months that the House vote would be a referendum on the Trump presidency and the pressure was getting to him. He often talked about a ‘war room’ that I never saw—this is more the daily operation I saw. I often saw him rage at his team, but this was the first time he banged his head on anything.”
The Brink—which this writer turned down appearing in—is a far cry from Errol Morris’ maligned Bannon doc American Dharma, wherein the legendary documentarian failed to challenge the nationalist crusader on a number of hot-button issues (that film still lacks a distributor). Klayman’s doc, which will be released by Magnolia Pictures on March 29, exposes Bannon as a hate merchant peddling xenophobia to politicians and paupers at home and abroad.
“The film is a distillation of my experience of Bannon over a period of 13 months where I filmed him as a one-person crew. I was interested in cutting through all the things Bannon will say (and he’s happy to say almost anything) and instead look at where he’s investing his energy, how he operates, and who is paying his way,” says Klayman.
“What I hope the doc shows is there isn’t much there except a desire to keep people out. He is good at identifying real problems—stagnant wages, jobs going overseas, the feeling that somewhere we got off track—but the only thing he offers for all this are crueler and more violent immigration policies. That’s all that’s there, a non sequitur meant to distract attention from the real sources of our issues. Everything else is a show he’s gotten good at putting on.”