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Award-winning documentary ‘Citizen Koch’ premieres in Sedona on July 24

In this searing exposé on the state of democracy in America and the fracturing of the Republican Party, Academy Award-nominated directors Carl Deal and Tia Lessin follow the money behind the rise of the Tea Party. Alternately terrifying and funny,
In this searing exposé on the state of democracy in America and the fracturing of the Republican Party, Academy Award-nominated directors Carl Deal and Tia Lessin follow the money behind the rise of the Tea Party. Alternately terrifying and funny, “Citizen Koch” is an essential and powerful portrait of our political times.

The Sedona International Film Festival is proud to present its premiere series with the one-night-only debut of the award-winning documentary “Citizen Koch” on Thursday, July 24. There will be two shows at 4 and 7 p.m. at the festival’s Mary D. Fisher Theatre.

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling opening the floodgates for unlimited political spending, it’s now easier than ever to buy an election. But what happens when the voters realize that the billionaires and corporations doing the buying do not have the people’s best interests at heart?

In this searing expose on the state of democracy in America and the fracturing of the Republican Party, Academy Award-nominated directors Carl Deal and Tia Lessin (Trouble the Water; co-producers of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine) follow the money behind the rise of the Tea Party. “Citizen Koch” investigates the impact of unlimited, anonymous spending by corporations and billionaires on the electoral process, featuring stories of life-long Republicans whose loyalty is tested when their families become collateral damage in the GOP fight to take organized labor out at the knees. Alternately terrifying and funny, “Citizen Koch” is an essential and powerful portrait of our political times.

The filmmakers break down the politically-motivated maneuvering behind the Supreme Court case that changed the way our democracy works, making way for the 2010 midterm elections that ushered in a new wave of ultraconservative Tea Party politicians. The Tea Party positioned itself as a citizen-powered, homegrown movement borne from sheer patriotism, but was actually one of the most well-funded and corporately-orchestrated political operations in history. Republicans capitalized on this new era with huge gains not just in Washington, DC, but across the country taking control of 29 governorships, and 26 state legislatures, including sweeps in the critical presidential swing states of Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Wisconsin’s newly elected Governor Scott Walker, a rising star in the GOP and a 2016 presidential contender, declared Wisconsin “open for business” and began doling out tax breaks to large corporations and millionaires, while eliminating collective bargaining rights and reducing pension contributions and health benefits for state employees. Wisconsin, the filmmakers discovered, had become a testing ground for the Tea Party’s larger plan to kneecap their political opponents in both state and federal elections, regardless of the cost to voters, Republicans and Democrats alike.

“Citizen Koch” tells the story of the changing American political landscape through the eyes of three Wisconsin state employees, all lifelong Republicans, who suddenly find their party taking direct aim at them, stripping away the economic ground their families have built and depended on for generations. Aided by a PR blitz by out-of-state Tea Party groups, Walker successfully shifts the blame for the country’s financial problems away from Wall Street’s wild west practices and onto school teachers, sanitation workers, prison guards and nurses – many of whom were the very voters who elected him to office.

“Citizen Koch” asks a defining question: will big money destroy not only the Republican Party, but our democracy itself?

“Citizen Koch” will be shown at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Thursday, July 24 at 4 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $12, or $9 for Film Festival members. For tickets and more information, please call 928-282-1177. Both the theatre and film festival office are located at 2030 W. Hwy. 89A, in West Sedona. For more information, visit: www.SedonaFilmFestival.org.