Participant Productions (the outfit behind Oscar winner An Inconvenient Truth) is partnering with US distributor Magnolia on Burning Down The House, a new Alex Gibney feature-documentary about the murky world of political lobbying.
This is a subject that has caused huge controversy in the US since political lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sent to prison after being convicted on a series of criminal felony counts relating to his lobbying activities. The film is now in post-production.
Some details of the film as well as of other feature documentaries on Participant's current slate were revealed last week by Diane Weyermann, Participant's executive vice president, documentary films at Particpant, during the IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).
One Participant film provoking huge curiosity is Errol Morris' film about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, S.O.P (military slang for 'standard operating procedure.') As announced, this is being co-produced by Participant and Sony Pictures Classics. Now in post-production and nearing picture lock, the film looks at the Abu Ghraib story through the notorious photographs taken in the prison and the stories of the people associated with those photos. Morris combines interviews with recreations.
'It is a combination of interviews and recreations - a combination of [his previous films] Fog and War and Thin Blue Line,' Weyermann commented of the documentary. 'It is a very specific Errol Morris film, visually stunning, with incredible cinematic creative elements and unbelievably powerful interviews and storytelling.'
S.O.P will be released in the US in 2008 and is likely to provoke fierce debate as Americans prepare to go to the polls to elect a new President.
Participant has had several titles screening in IDFA this week, among them Chicago 10, Angels In The Dust, Jimmy Carter Man From Plains and Darfur Now.
'The mandate is to go into production on five documentaries a year,' Weyermann said of the company's policy. 'It's basically starting five, developing five, releasing five every year. That is the track we are on.'