NEW YORK – With his new documentary film “America” scheduled to open in 1,000 movie theaters nationwide July 4, filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza has set off on a journey across the country, determined to reintroduce Americans to the idea of the exceptionalism that continues to draw millions of immigrants like himself to the United States.
On Tuesday night, D’Souza attended the premiere screening of “America” in New York City at the Regal Union Square Stadium 14 theater complex in Union Square before an audience that overflowed into a second theater. It was hosted by Salem Radio Network’s nationally syndicated talk-show host Mike Gallagher.
“I want this to be an inspiring film,” D’Souza explained to the audience in a Q&A session after the screening. “I wanted to bring to life key elements of American history.”
Parked outside the theater complex on Broadway, D’Souza’s tour bus offered rock star-like advertisement for the film, with a larger-than-life portrait of D’Souza painted against the landscape and historic monuments of the nation.
“This film is my attempt to defend America when the American left is attacking the idea of the nation in moral terms, portraying America as a land where wealth has been stolen. In this film, I counter the leftist critique of America head-on.”
The screening on two screens in the Union Square movie-theater complex in New York City ended with a sustained standing ovation.
Attending the New York City premiere with D’Souza was the producer of “America,” Gerald Molen, the noted movie producer whose credits include “Schindler’s List,” “Rain Man” and “Jurassic Park.”
In the question-and-answer session after the screening, Molen drew applause when he explained to the audience, “This was a film I worked on because I care. I care about my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I want America to be the same for them that it was for me. We’re in a downhill slide. It’s a dark night in America and we have to turn the lights on.”
Molen continued, putting his hand on D’Souza’s shoulder.
“This man right here has the vision, the courage, and the will to stand up to all the pressure he has been under, including those placed on him by his own government, which is the shame of it,” Molen said, drawing strong applause. “For me, working on this film was a sense of pride, patriotism, and great love for this guy here.”
The film, in a dramatic sequence, shows D’Souza handcuffed in prison, acknowledging he pleaded guilty recently to a technical violation of the federal election laws that the Obama administration selectively pressed against a perceived “enemy.” D’Souza’s first film, “2016,” had explored the “roots of Obama’s rage” in the anti-colonial views D’Souza argued Barack Obama derived from his openly socialist Kenyan father.
D’Souza’s “America” opens with a dramatic scene showing the British defeating the American Revolutionary War Army when Gen. George Washington is shot to death on the battlefield, felled by a British sniper’s bullet.
With cinematography that clearly shows D’Souza advancing in his skills, the documentary challenges the audience to contemplate the possibility: “Imagine there was no America.”
On screen, iconic American monuments the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington disappear from view, dissolving into sand.
From there, the documentary dramatizes Abraham Lincoln arguing famously that the future risk to America’s national security will not come from foreign enemies, but from within.
D’Souza draws on Howard Zinn’s socialist-inspired bestselling college textbook, “A People’s History of the United States: 1482 to Present,” to articulate the leftist indictment of the United States.
Documented through a series of interviews with prominent leftist authors and activists ranging from Noam Chomsky to former professor Ward Churchill, America is portrayed is a racially oppressive nation, where power has been accumulated through imperialist foreign wars and domestic class warfare that oppresses people of color, starting with the indigenous Indian tribes displaced from their lands and slaves brought in chains from Africa.
D’Souza presents the socialist indictment of America so convincingly that conservative viewers may initially feel uncomfortable.
“One woman in our first screenings actually walked out, asking, ‘Why are you giving the left so much time,’” D’Souza explained in the Q&A session. “We had to ask her to be patient. The refutation of the indictment from the left was coming next.”
In the second act of the film, D’Souza articulates a compelling view of American exceptionalism in which, he argues, America should not be condemned for slavery, a crime common to many nations in the age of conquest, but should be praised for being a nation willing to fight a great civil war that ended slavery.
On Wednesday morning, appearing in-studio in New York City with Mike Gallagher, D’Souza explained his enthusiasm over the reaction of the New York audience to his premiere screening of the film.
“It was great,” D’Souza said. “We have been showing the film to small groups of screenwriters to get feedback, but this was one of the first times we’ve shown the film in theater. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive.”
One attendee at the New York premiere in the Q&A session after the screening asked D’Souza what it would take to get “America” seen by every student in the nation, from elementary school levels, through high school, to college.
“We are committed to having the documentary made available to schools across America,” D’Souza answered, “and we are now exploring ways to get such an effort financed.”
“The story of America you tell is a very powerful story,” Gallagher told his radio listeners, “and it is a story that is not being told today in the schools, a story that maybe we didn’t even know growing up. This is very powerful movie about the truth, confirming the exceptionalism we know to be America.”
From New York, D’Souza’s bus tour headed toward Philadelphia, with plans to end the week with screenings in the nation’s capital.
On Saturday, D’Souza will be in Atlanta, with yet another premiere screening on his 35-city premiere tour.
See the newly released trailer for “America”: