Stefan Forbes is the director of a new documentary called Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, a fascinating, funny, and deeply disturbing portrait of the controversial Republican operative who perfected the art of politics as blood sport. The film arrives in theaters this weekend riding a wave of critical praise.
Owen Glieberman of Entertainment Weekly: “Stefan Forbes’ incisive portrait of the late, infamous Republican consultant is a chronicle of how the culture
war took over American politics.
As such, it could scarcely be more timely. (Karl Rove was Atwater’s protégé.)…In terrific clips, we see the scampish gleam of mischief that shot out of Atwater’s steely eyes, giving him the look of a honky-tonk Daniel Craig. His great strategy, and legacy, was the art of lying out in the open. He saw that character assassination invades media like an airborne virus—that even a lie can become its own ‘truth.’”
And from the Washington Post: “The career of the wildly successful, and wildly controversial, late Republican political operative comes back to us in ways that are funny, sad and mean. There is more than one moment in this film that will likely pop your jaw open.”
And finally from the Los Angeles Times: “The movie isn’t a knee-jerk lefty hit job. In fact, it shows that Atwater was a runaway success not just because he was a devious political operator, but because, in the words of one liberal reporter Forbes interviewed, the sass-talking, guitar-playing Atwater ‘was the most fun man I ever met.’”
I recently had a chance to talk with Forbes about his film and the man who inspired it.