(Release Info London schedule; October 23rd, 2020, Curzon Home Cinema)
"Raise Hell: The Life & Times Of Molly Ivins"
"Raise Hell: The Life & Times Of Molly Ivins" tells the story of media firebrand Molly Ivins, six feet of Texas trouble who took on 'The Good Old Boy' corruption in the political establishment. Her razor sharp wit left both sides of the aisle laughing, and craving ink in her columns. She found joy in reporting as one of the lone liberals in her deep-red state. She knew 'The Bill Of Rights' was in peril. She feared that the partisan plague would be the death of American democracy. Ivins became the first woman to co-edit 'The Texas Observer, and among her claims to fame were her searing, comical books on George W. Bush’s temperament and political record; having grown up in the same town with him, she became an accidental expert. Her blistering way with words was feared by the political elite, but her refreshing critique and big heart garnered a die-hard following from around the country. This is the story of a political columnist and Texas maverick that spoke truth to power and gave voice to those that had none. She took on the good ol’ boys, cracking wise and drinking them under the table. At the height of her popularity 400 newspapers carried her column. Texas is the national laboratory for bad gub’ment. The 'Texification' of 'U.S.' politics, anti-intellectualism, public religiosity and machismo is here. Polarizing people is a good way to win an election and a good way to wreck a country. With her death in 2007, the nation lost a freedom fighter. The film crafts a highly entertaining watch that radiantly brings Ivins’s repartee and political wisdom back to life. Her messaging and brand of commentary strikes a particular chord in today’s hostile political climate. The film asks us to shake up the system like Molly Ivins would. Now it's up to us to raise hell!
"Raise Hell" is based on the woman play 'Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit Of Molly Ivins' starring Kathleen Turner. Molly Ivins was a nationally-syndicated political columnist and author, who remained cheerful despite the state of politics in this country and her own physical trials. She emphasized the more hilarious aspects of both state and national government, and consequently never had to write fiction. Ivins was from Houston, Texas, graduated from 'Smith College' in 1966, then from 'Columbia University's School Of Journalism 'with a 'Masters' in 1967 and studied for a year at 'The Institute Of Political Sciences' in Paris. Her early journalism work was not unusual. Her first newspaper job was in 'The Complaint Department' of 'The Houston Chronicle'. She rapidly worked her way up to the position of sewer editor, where she wrote a number of gripping articles about street closings. She went on to 'The Minneapolis Tribune' and was the first woman reporter in that city. In the late 1960's, she was assigned to a beat called 'Movements For Social Change', covering angry blacks, radical students, uppity women and a motley assortment of other misfits and troublemakers. Ivins returned to Texas as co-editor of 'The Texas Observer', a sprightly, muckraking publication devoted to coverage of Texas politics and of social issues. She roamed the state in search of truth, justice and good stories -and found her uniquely strong political voice by bringing out the hilarity in those stories.
In 1976 Ivins joined 'The New York Times', first as a political reporter in New York City and Albany. She was then named 'Rocky Mountain Bureau Chief', chiefly because there was no one else in the bureau. For three years she covered nine mountain states by herself, and was often tired. Ivins won many awards too numerous to list for her writing, courage, and truth telling. She was also known for her essays on 'National Public Radio' as well as media appearances around the world. Ivins wrote seven books, several of which were best-sellers including; 'Bushwhacked: Life In George W. Bush's America'. Her last book project was begun just before her cancer struck again in November 2005. She had devoted much of her writing, lecturing and life to defending 'The Bill Of Rights' and lamented 'The Bush Administration's' assault on those basic rights. She continued to be involved in the project throughout her final 15 months, though Lou Dubose did much of the actual reporting and writing while working closely with her. Ivins was always active in 'The American Civil Liberties Union' and often wrote about 'First Amendment' issues.
She had promised John Henry Faulk her beloved mentor, as he lay dying that she would take care of it. She donated a speech every month to 'The First Amendment', frequently to 'ACLU' chapters around the country. She often remarked that she would rather join the 11 brave 'ACLU' members in Podunk, Alabama in the basement of 'The Holiday Inn' than the thousands of 'ACLU' members in New York or Los Angeles. She inspired them all. Molly was 'President' of 'The Board Of The Texas Democracy Foundation' publisher of the venerable 'Texas Observer', which was her spiritual home and love. She found her voice at 'The Observer' and helped sustain them and lead countless other young writers in seeking out the good stories and bring them to the public. 'The American Civil Liberties Association' and 'The Texas Observer' are the beneficiaries of Molly's residual estate, and she always encouraged other people to make financial provisions for the freedom fighting we need to continue. As we continue her fight, let's all remember her understanding of what works against 'The Powers-That-Be'.
The film dugs deep into Molly's life practically living in her archives at The Briscoe Center For American Studies' at 'The University Of Texas'. The archive material shares incredible stories and nuggets of this larger than life, warm-hearted, fantastically funny and brilliant woman who was an equal opportunity satirist and a serious political wonk who was absolutely prescient. It's a deep distrust of patriarchal authority and a need to stand up for the underdog. Her politics are our politics. Molly hated anyone who would basically kick a cripple. This our deal, this is our country, that those people up in your state capitols, up in Washington, they're just the people we've hired to drive the bus for awhile, resonates deeply. If you don't vote, you can't bitch, that's in article 27. The best way to get the sons of bitches is to make people laugh at them. That alone cements our kinship and overwhelming passion to share her story to a hungry public who needs her humor, brilliance and prescience. Molly Ivins challenges all of us to take personal responsibility for political and social issues that impact our lives. "Raise Hell" is a lightning rod to get involved in grassroots projects, local and national politics, and voter registration. If we want change, it starts with us.