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Last Updated: Monday, 11 September 2006, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Bush assassination film defended
Death of a President drama
Death of a President will be shown on UK digital channel More4
The director of a movie portraying the fictional assassination of US President George Bush has defended his film after critics called it "irresponsible".

Gabriel Range said people had rushed to judge the film as it received its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

"It is using the lens of the future to look at the present," Range said. "It is about issues that have affected us all in the last five years."

Mr Bush's Republican party has branded the film "shocking" and "disturbing".

John Beyer of UK TV pressure group MediaWatch said the film "may well put ideas into people's heads".

Horrific event

But Range said he did not believe the film glorified the president's death.

"I think the film makes it clear it would really be a horrific event," he told the Associated Press news agency.

"I really don't think that anyone would get the idea of assassinating Bush from this film."

Presented as a mock documentary, Death of a President shows Mr Bush being targeted by a sniper during an anti-war rally in Chicago in 2007.

He is confronted by a demonstration when he arrives in the city to deliver a speech to business leaders and is shot as he leaves the venue.

It seemed very real... I found myself mesmerised
Linda Walsh
Audience member

The ensuing investigation focuses on a Syrian-born man and recalls the controversy over President Kennedy's assassination in 1963, as debate rages over whether the sniper was a lone gunman or part of a bigger conspiracy.

"It is a film about America today," Range told the audience after the premiere.

The film's producers said they had chosen to put President Bush in the movie to make it more realistic.

"The central conceit of the film was that it is a drama, but told in the style of what we hope is a fairly authentic, classic, retrospective documentary," said producer Simon Finch, who co-wrote the screenplay with Range.

"Clearly, if we had told a retrospective documentary with a fictional president, it would have undermined and undercut that central idea."


The film was shown to a sell-out crowd at the Toronto Film Festival, who applauded at the end of the screening and several times during a question and answer session with the producers.

"It seemed very real," said audience member Linda Walsh. "I found myself mesmerised."

Ms Walsh, from Mill Valley, California, said she hoped the film would make people think "about the war, about the Patriot Act, about our judicial system."

Death of a President was made by UK broadcaster Channel 4, and will be shown on the digital channel More4 on 9 October.

It was being screened in Toronto in the hope of finding a US distributor.

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