While President Barack Obama was summing up the state of the union during a nationally televised speech Tuesday night, hundreds of copies of a DVD featuring an interview with his impoverished half-brother were being mailed to senators, congressmen, the governors of all 50 states and the eight Supreme Court justices.
One copy of the movie, 2016: Obama’s America, was also mailed to the president at his White House address and another went to Vice President Joe Biden.
The film tries to make the point that Obama’s agenda is bad for America and that the rationale for his policies stems from a hard-left ideology that was instilled in him by the example set by his absentee father. One of the more compelling scenes is an interview with George Obama, the president’s half-brother who was living in a hut near Nairobi, Kenya at the time.
2016 was released theatrically in July and raked in $33.5 million, enough to make it the second biggest political documentary in U.S. history, right behind Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.
While Lionsgate Home Entertainment is distributing the DVD, it was not involved in the decision to mail about 600 copies to legislators and other governmental power-brokers.
Instead, the initiative was spearheaded by the film’s star and co-director Dinesh D’Souza, who shelled out $393 to mail the DVDs, which will arrive in different packaging than the official Lionsgate release. While the DVDs were shipped Tuesday, recipients won’t get them for at least a week, given that parcels to high-ranking members of the U.S. government typically are screened by security personnel looking for anthrax, radiation and other hazards.
Despite the obvious marketing potential of such a move, D’Souza cites a different motivation.
“The film laid out a bold thesis that no one else was advancing,” D'Souza told The Hollywood Reporter. "The movie has been a good predictor of Obama's behavior and of the policies these lawmakers will be dealing with, so we sent it to them."
Accompanying each DVD is a letter from D’Souza that reads:
“Since 2012 was an election year, I have a hunch that you weren’t able to slip away to the movies. You may have missed a film that I wrote and directed called 2016: Obama’s America. It was my first venture into filmmaker, and I was very pleased that it became the #2 highest grossing political documentary in history. After its theatrical run, the film was released on DVD. I’m pleased to present you with your own personal copy. I hope you will find it interesting and compelling, and I welcome any feedback you may have. Thank you for your service to our Nation.”
Lionsgate had not comment on the initiative.