Director Stephen Bannon talks Sarah Palin's Undefeated

Sarah Palin's documentary opens today. We asked director Stephen K. Bannon some questions. Here are the answers, in his own words.


  • Victory Films
  • Ms. Tea

It's not often that a documentary makes news.

With a few notable exceptions—Michael Moore or Davis Guggenheim whose Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman inspired national debates about climate change and U.S. schools—opening a new documentary usually garners as much coverage as the Metrodome in a blizzard.

Which is why the opening of The Undefeated is so interesting.

More than Atlas Shrugged, people can't stop talking about this curiously titled documentary of the rise (and fall? and rise?) of Sarah Palin.

In the coming months, muckraking rabble-rouser Nick Broomfield (Kurt & Courtney, Biggie & Tupac, Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam, Aileen Wuornos: Portrait of a Serial Killer) will offer his take on the politician turned reality show subject.

For now we have the chance to see right-leaning filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon's (Battle for America, Fire from the Heartland) spin in a new doc inspired by Palin's book "Going Rogue: An American Life."

While I believe it won't change anyone's opinion about political lightning rod/left-wing whipping post/tea party patron saint Sarah Palin—if anything it'll further solidify whatever position you currently hold—you kind of can't help but watch as he chronicles the tempest in hopes of stirring the teapot.

What drew you to this subject?

I observed Governor Palin for over a year as I made my two 'tea party' films Generation Zero and Fire from the Heartland. Besides her obvious charisma, I noticed someone of real substance who had a real connection with the Tea Party. As I studied her background, I realized no one had ever told the real story of her rise from total obscurity to prominence. The reality was so different than the meme that I felt compelled to tell it.

Given Sarah Palin's well documented mistrust of mainstream media, how did you get access? What were some of the challenges of this shoot? Was she a willing participant? What does she think of the film?

I turned down making a series of short Youtube videos that her PAC asked me to do because I wanted to do a feature film...and do it my way with no involvement from the Palin camp. The story of her governorship has not been told—how she battled a corrupt political class and took on Big Oil.

And I was determined to tell it.

We shot in secret in Alaska and 'masked' our requests for archival footage so the stations would not get suspicious. As much as she is covered in Alaska we didn't want anyone to know we were making the definitive story about her career.