JAKE COIL, AP Film writer
NEW YORK (AP) — A new documentary about Rudy Giuliani, premiered at the Tribeca Festival, is intertwined with musical performances to give the ups and downs of the man once commonly referred to as “America’s mayor” an operatic touch.
“Rudy! Directed by Jed Rothstein, the documentary musical is pretty much a sober, conventional analysis of Giuliani’s unlikely political trajectory, from New York City attorney, mayor and 9/11 hero to pushing bogus legal challenges in the 2020 election for then President Donald Trump. But to To fully convey Giuliani’s exaggerated rises and falls, Rothstein felt he needed a Greek choir.
“His story is very operatic,” Rothstein said in an interview. “Music can bring out emotional truths that are different from when someone talks about it. This is certainly unusual for a documentary, but reveals its truth. I wanted to make a film that captures the craziness of his arc.”
Rothstein initially considered creating operatic interludes for his film—Giuliani is a well-known opera fan—but quickly realized that the editing requirements of even an intermediate opera were too great. Instead, he approached Broadway musicians and performers to write and stage musical numbers.
“Rudy! The documentary musical, which is seeking distribution in Tribeca, is the most significant documentary attempting to reconcile one of the most baffling American politicians – once Time Magazine’s Person of the Year – in 30 years. The film arrives at Tribeca – a film festival that was partly born on 9/11 – just as a House committee is investigating the January investigation. On September 6, 2021, the U.S. Capitol uprising grows. Giuliani, whose legal license was suspended for lying about the 2020 election, recently held a multi-hour meeting with a House committee.
Giuliani was not involved in the filming of the documentary, although Rothstein says he made many attempts to convince him to give an interview. “Rudy!” instead, it features interviews with former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton; Al Sharpton; journalist Andrew Kirtzman, author of Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City and Giuliani’s spokesman during his first successful run for mayor, Ken Friedman. It also includes a forensic psychiatrist who helps explain some of the activities surrounding the Capitol riot.
For Rothstein, a longtime New Yorker whose films include WeWork: or Making and Destroying a $47 Billion Unicorn, Giuliani’s story is partly American.
– What motivated him? Rothstein says. Why did he go on this journey? What does his central role in our recent history say about all of us?”
Some of the film’s most prominent parts deal with Giuliani’s campaign against David Dinkins for mayor, run on a platform of law and order that exploits racial dynamics. The film is not entirely critical of Giuliani. Sifting through the 9/11 video footage only further impressed Rothstein with his leadership at the time.
“He’s a man who’s always been concerned about morality,” says Rothstein. “As he says, his father told him to look in the mirror when he shaves in the morning and be able to see himself with pride. And I wonder how he feels about it now.”
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