Wednesday 9 October: Panel American Paranoia
On 22 November 1963 American President John F. Kennedy was killed. Half a century later speculation is still rife concerning possible conspiracy theories. At Film Fest Gent, we are remembering the murder that caused America to lose its innocence by screening several thought-provoking films and creating a link with the current paranoia holding America in its grip.
In addition, Film Fest Gent has selected a number of films on this theme, which we’ve listed in our Knack Focus Special under the heading ‘American Paranoia’: Parkland (Peter Landesman), The Fifth Estate (Bill Condon), Upstream Color (Shane Carruth), Our Nixon (Penny Lane) and The Americans (Joseph Weisberg).
Fifty years on, what else is there to say about the assassination of John F. Kennedy? Quite a lot, judging from Parkland, a fascinating thriller documenting the historical murder on 22 November 1963 that shocked the entire world. First-time director Peter Landesman and producer Tom Hanks wisely omitted the conspiracy theories and speculation regarding the murder. Parkland is based on Four Days in November, the critically acclaimed book by Vincent Bugliosi, and chronicles the chaotic events of that fateful day in Dallas from the perspective of bystanders, medical staff and the secret agents who witnessed Kennedy dying from his injuries at the Parkland Hospital. Landesman assembled an all-star cast for his film: Zac Efron plays the young surgeon Jim Carrico, who tries in vain to save the President’s life; Billy Bob Thornton was cast as the head of the Dallas Secret Service, which was accused, together with the FBI, of being responsible for “the biggest fuck-up in the history of federal law enforcement”; James Badge Dale is Robert, the brother of the murderer, Lee Harvey Oswald, wracked by shame and guilt; and finally, Jacki Weaver plays Oswald’s manic mother. Cameraman Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) unwittingly goes on to play a key role in the saga, as the man who shot some of the most viewed and analysed images in history and sold the 8-mm film to Life Magazine for 50,000 dollars.