MAPLEWOOD – Local farmer Chris Gibbs is featured in a 2020 independent documentary film, about Trump voters changing their minds about former President Donald Trump, who is making his way to independent film festivals and winning awards .
“The Game is Up: Disillusioned Trump Voters Tell Their Stories” filmmaker, director and screenwriter Melissa Jo Peltier of New York City hopes to find a network to pick up and release the film, which was mostly self-funded.
“The Game is Up” tells the stories of a cross section of Trump voters, why they voted for Trump in the first place, and how they gradually changed their minds about him ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“It’s not a Trump bashing movie in the least, it just reveals why they changed their minds,” Peltier said recently in an interview at the Santa Fe Film Festival, where the documentary was chosen as a selection. official to show.
Peltier was inspired to make the documentary by seeing former Illinois 8th District U.S. Representative Joe Walsh’s transformation in real time from 2015 to 2018 on Twitter. Walsh, a conservative-turned-independent, is a former congressman, 2020 Republican presidential candidate, author, and host of the conservative radio show “White Flag with Joe Walsh.”
Co-producer/editor Marilys Ernst, of Portland, Oregon, said during that same Santa Fe festival interview the film will help those who don’t understand why anyone would vote for Trump through the stories and journeys of the characters in the film. movie, “Especially since they’re all very different stories.”
Peltier told the Sidney Daily News that she hopes the film will change some people’s minds. The goal, she said, is to find a home for the film so that it becomes available to stream for mind-opening family members who are Trump supporters.
“I wanted people to have permission to change their minds about Trump. I knew a lot of people who went to bed with a sick stomach,” Peltier said of the tension in America during the Trump presidency. “I wanted to appeal to people’s hearts. I wanted to tell personal stories (to help people) identify with them.
“I wanted the documentary to be fun. We never say Trump is stupid; he is intelligent. It says this guy shot you,” Peltier said. “Trump is not stupid. He’s a rhetorical genius. He’s a crook.
Gibbs, a 2016 Trump voter and also a former Republican-turned-independent, was approached in 2019 to take part in the film after he was seen expressing his disapproval of Trump and how his policies were affecting his farm, in various national press interviews.
“I gave 20 years to the Republican Party. I gave, other than family, what I consider my most prized possession, and that was my name, only to find out when the Trump administration took office, what I had been advocating was a lie …all these tenants that the GOP joined went out the window,” Gibbs said of why he agreed to be in the film. “What we have is a grassroots movement that started within the Republican Party years ago. …”
“I watched the movie for the first time on my computer in my hotel room and was blown away,” Gibbs said. “The director wasn’t trying to make a political statement. All she (Peltier) was trying to do was document stories. So I was very happy and relieved that the film was something that I was very proud of and that my name was associated with.
“The Game is Up” was shot in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown. Peltier, Ernst and fellow co-producer Mary Kerry Craven, from Florida, had to get creative to make the film once COVID hit the United States. Production was halted for a time, and aside from Walsh’s segments, local cinematographers were eventually brought in to shoot subjects in their hometowns or remotely.
The film’s budget of $150,000 to $160,000 was mostly paid for by Peltier, except for the roughly $35,000 to $40,000 that the American Dignity PAC contributed. The American Dignity PAC describes itself as a bipartisan team of creative professionals, producing media to restore America’s dignity.
“The Game is Up: Disillusioned Trump Voters Tell Their Stories” has screened at over 30 independent festivals since 2021, with several more festivals to come in 2022. The film won numerous awards, including Best Documentary 2021 at the Lady Film Makers Festival and also at the City of Angels Women’s Film Festival, both in Los Angeles in September 2021.
The film is not yet available to the public, but Peltier and his team are actively working to find a platform to make it available.
“We’re hoping to reach a deal with a producer’s representative this week,” Peltier said Monday of a deal with who will take the film to various outlets and try to find a home for it. “I’m praying we find a house where everyone can see her before November midterms.”
Writer and director Melissa Jo Peltier, from New York, left to right, with local farmer Chris Gibbs, from Maplewood, and Mary Kerry Craven, one of two co-producers, from Florida, show the Best Documentary win at Los Angeles. Lady Film Makers Festival in September 2021.