When we presented the trailer for Errol Morris‘ new film “Tabloid”, we mentioned how the film’s subject, Joyce McKinney, has been popping up at screenings to correct the errors and omissions she believes are in the film, which is about her relationship with a man that she was accused of kidnapping and trying to “deprogram” from Mormonism using sex.
As detailed by Peter Labuza on his website, McKinney “snuck into” a recent screening of “Tabloid” at the Museum of Modern Art and presented the audience with a lengthy rebuttal to the film (if you believe one anonymous comment below the piece, her diatribe ran at least fifteen minutes). Amongst her many claims against the film, she accused Morris of trying to keep her from speaking out, misrepresenting her story, and giving her a “phony contract with Showtime to do a television series” (“Tabloid” producer Mark Lipson told Labuza that “Showtime is in fact a partner in the enterprise of ‘Tabloid.'”). The film itself was met with laughter and applause, which, according to Labuza, apparently irked McKinney all the more.
Lots of documentaries, including a couple of Morris’ previous ones, have crafted unflattering portraits of their subjects, and sometimes those subjects have spoke out against them. But I can’t recall any recent film in which a subject (that wasn’t, say, a massive oil conglomerate) was so adamantly opposed to the documentary, and so intensely focused on a campaign against it. It raises all sorts of interesting questions about documentary filmmaking. Does a film belong to its creator, its subject, or its audience? Is a director’s ultimately responsibility to his film or his subject? McKinney’s repeated complaints also have one additional side effect which she may not have intended: they really make me want to see the movie.
And, as a matter of fact, I’m going to see the movie tonight. At this point, I’ll be kind of disappointed if McKinney doesn’t show up. “Tabloid” opens in limited release on July 15.