Access (2000)

I’m talking about throwing out the current criminals we’ve got at the public trough.”

The documentary Access from filmmaker Matt Ehling examines the phenomenon of cable access television by focusing on three people who use this medium to “push the envelope.” There’s preacher Homer Giles, “Militia Man” Mark Hanson and political candidate Richard A-Bomb Klatte.

One of the things that leaps out in this fascinating documentary is the fact that both Hanson and Klatte–while at opposite ends of the political spectrum–agree on a number of issues, and end up joining forces as the Fusion Party when Klatte runs for Governor of Minnesota with Hanson as a running mate for Lt. Governor in 1998. These two very strong personalities have their own theories on the subject of just where government goes wrong and how it should be corrected, and they both coalesce around the idea that government is completely out of control and a far cry from the antiquated notion of a so-called entity that is ‘of the people, by the people, and supposedly for the people.’

Both Hanson and Klatte are extremely engaging subjects for documentary material–although Hanson steals the film. Hanson, a navy veteran describes how he “used to follow the party line” but that all changed. Listing off Waco and Ruby Ridge, he throws down the challenge to “name a crime the federal government hasn’t committed against the citizenry.’ Indeed Hanson’s predictions for the future are not pleasant, and while he admits that most American’s “love their chains” he states “I refuse to live under the illusion that we’re free men.” Hanson sees the alliance with Klatte as an alternative to the current political fiasco. Hanson states: “The Demorats and the Republicans. There’s no difference. They’re just stooges for the corporations.”

There are excerpts included from Klatte and Hanson’s televised Christmas Special, clips from callers, and clips of an interview with Klatte and Jesse Ventura. At one point Klatte and Hanson discuss exactly what their joint platform is, and in another part of the film the two men go off shooting together. Some of the best scenes in the film occur when Klatte and Hanson take to the streets of Minnesota in an effort to campaign and hand out flyers. The filmmaker captures the surreal qualities of the moment, and while on one level we see Klatte and Hanson very seriously attempting to educate people on the issues, we also see people dressed in costume studiously avoiding contact. This avoidance is both literal and symbolic, and the director captures these layers of meaning on film.

Given how things have changed in America in the last decade, I hope director Matt Ehling does a follow-up film on Hanson and Klatte. I bet they both have a lot to say….

Access is available from www.etspictures.com

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Filed under Documentary, Political/social films

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