Noting that popular film and television have answered the Trump era's mass erosion of truth and justice with narratives about powerful deceivers and sophists, Film Quarterly Assistant Editor Marc Francis argues that no fiction has yet to offer as cohesive and relevant a response to these times as the what he terms the “bio-con” (biographical con) documentary. The bio-con documentary zeroes in on one notorious figure—a fraud—the unveiling of whose scheme occupies multiple national news cycles and is therefore ready-made for an extended investigation. Citing well-known examples such as Fyre Fraud (Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, 2019), The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (Alex Gibney, 2019), Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (Alexis Bloom, 2018), Where's My Roy Cohn? (Matt Tyrnauer, 2019), Francis probes these films for what insights they can offer about what is politically at stake in a postdemocracy United States and the connection between falsity and fascism.
Smoke and Mirrors: The Bio-Con Documentary in the Age of Trump
Marc Francis is a lecturer at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. He received his PhD in Film and Digital Media Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. His essays have appeared in Camera Obscura, [In]Transition, Jump Cut, and Film Quarterly. He is currently working on a book about the programming of canonical queer films in 1970s and 1980s US art house cinemas.
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Marc Francis; Smoke and Mirrors: The Bio-Con Documentary in the Age of Trump. Film Quarterly 1 September 2020; 74 (1): 69–74. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2020.74.1.69
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