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Death of Bush Movie Prompting Outrage

Toronto- A British mock-documentary called Death Of A President , which depicts the imagined assassination of George W. Bush, seems to be this year’s lightning rod for political outrage at the Toronto International Film Festival.

TIFF has been down this road before, with the “cat killer” movie Casuistry: The Art Of Killing A Cat and the ostensibly anti-American 9/11 anthology-thinkpiece 11’09”01.

But D.O.A.P. (as it is coyly referred to in festival material) could be more gasoline on the fire of polarized U.S. politics.

The movie is fashioned as a future look back at the repercussions that follow Bush’s assassination in October 2007.

Right-wing media in the U.S. discovered the movie and its premise yesterday. The news/gossip weblog The Drudge Report led its home page with the words “SHOCK: PRESIDENT BUSH ASSASSINATED IN NEW MOVIE.”

The Drudge site, which linked to an article about the movie in the London Evening Standard, also included a doctored photo from the film of Bush being shot by a sniper in front of a hotel.

“This is outrageous!” wrote Liza Snyder of Richmond, Ind., in one of several angry comments posted about the article at Drudge. “Someone should be afraid of life imitating art! I’m disgusted at the thought of it.”

Right wing talk-radio pundit Rush Limbaugh also ran with the story, expressing his outrage to as many as 12 million listeners on more than 500 radio affiliates.

“Sicko,” Limbaugh said in describing the film’s director, Gabriel Range. Limbaugh asked, “isn’t it a crime” to talk about killing a president?

The White House declined to comment, saying it would not dignify the movie with a response.

In a release, director Range said, “We’re thrilled to be screening the film at Toronto. It’s a striking premise which may be seen as highly controversial. But it’s a serious film which I hope will open up the debate on where current U.S. foreign and domestic policies are taking us.”

Limbaugh claimed the filmmaker’s sole intention is to move forward the anti-Bush agenda, and he questioned the morals and integrity of anybody who would sanction such work.

“It’s clearly a new age,” Limbaugh said.

Festival co-director Noah Cowan, in his comments about D.O.A.P. on the fest’s website, downplays the films politics. “Range is ultimately interested in addressing today’s political issues through the lens of the future,” Cowan wrote. “Xenophobia, the hidden costs of war and the nature of civil liberties in a hyper-media age all come under the microscope.

“The film is never a personal attack on Bush.”

The head of the channel that will air D.O.A.P. on British TV called it a “thought-provoking critique” of U.S. politics that is “not sensationalist, or simplistic but a very thought-provoking, powerful drama,” the Evening Standard reported.

TIFF runs from Sept. 7-16.

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