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FiveThirtyEight & ESPN Films Debut Short Film Series on U.S. Presidential Elections


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FiveThirtyEight Elections Series Premieres with “The Dean Scream”

Today, FiveThirtyEight and ESPN Films debuts the first of a series of five short films which delve into some of the most iconic moments in recent U.S. election history. Each film in the FiveThirtyEight Elections series will be accompanied by a podcast as well as related features to provide greater context. The first, titled The Dean Scream,” explores former presidential candidate Howard Dean’s fateful and energetic speech following his defeat in the Iowa Caucus in 2004.

“As FiveThirtyEight reports on this remarkable presidential election, the series will provide historical perspective to well-known narratives that helped shape today’s political landscape,” said David Firestone, managing editor. “FiveThirtyEight Elections demonstrates our continued commitment to producing compelling multimedia content.”

FiveThirtyEight Elections Film Summaries (additional film topics and premiere dates to be announced):

The Dean Scream

Directed by Bryan Storkel

The film tells the story of 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean and his famous “I Have a Scream” speech after his defeat in the Iowa Caucus. Featuring interviews with Dean and others, the short deconstructs the incident and offers a fresh perspective to what was perceived by many as a careless mishap.

In addition to takes from FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver and senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten, the film features commentary from several political insiders and observers including former Iowa senator Tom Harkin, Dean’s former communications director Tricia Enright, campaign manager Joe Trippi, filmmaker Rob Reiner and 2004 Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill.

Dukakis – May

Directed by Jason Reid

The image of Democratic Presidential Nominee Michael Dukakis’ small frame perched awkwardly on a 68-ton M1A1 Battle Tank in the summer of 1988 is often noted as the image that single handedly sent the Massachusetts Governor’s once-promising presidential campaign into a tailspin. As the film explores, there were other important factors beneath the surface that contributed heavily to the largest drop in favorability ratings of any presidential candidate in history.

Additionally, the short documentary film will feature interviews with Dukakis, FiveThirtyEight’s reporters and other political insiders.

Obama/Wright – Summer

Directed by Eric Drath

This is the story of the making of one of the most important speeches in presidential election history; a speech that helped to assuage the darkest fears around Barack Obama’s ideology on race, while distancing him from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a controversial figure whose comments on race and relationship with Obama had the potential to derail Obama’s bid for the democratic nomination. The film will feature commentary from speech writer Jon Favreau and chief campaign strategist David Axelrod.

FiveThirtyEight, which launched as an ESPN entity in 2014, is a data journalism organization delivering compelling stories across the verticals of politics, economy, science, life and sports. The site, founded by award-winning author and statistician Nate Silver, first gained national attention during the 2008 presidential election, when it correctly predicted the results of the presidential election in 49 of 50 states, along with all 35 U.S. Senate races. Since its debut at ESPN, FiveThirtyEight has built a team with a broad set of skills and experiences in order to apply statistical analysis, data visualization, and data-literate reporting to topics in the news and in everyday life.

Created in March 2008, ESPN Films produces high-quality documentary films showcasing some of the most compelling stories in sports. In October 2009, ESPN Films launched the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning 30 for 30 film series. Additional projects from ESPN Films include the decorated series 30 for 30 Shorts, Nine for IX and SEC Storied among others.