NEW YORK – Even as he serves an eight-month sentence at a community confinement center in San Diego and is barred from traveling outside the county, filmmaker and bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza is set to release for digital formats his anti-Obama film “America: Imagine the World Without Her” and continues to secure financing for a 2016 film.
“America” earned $14 million at the box office, making it the No. 6 political documentary of all time, and will be released Tuesday on DVD, Blu-ray and streaming. The new release will have more than 40 minutes of additional footage, including interviews with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; former POW John Fer; liberal activist Ward Churchill; and conservative activist and WND columnist Star Parker.
“Our investors are extremely pleased we were able to make ‘America’ a commercial success and that we did well enough to get them their money back,” D’Souza told WND in a telephone interview.
He said the investors haven’t been deterred by his sentencing in September to eight months in the work-release center, five years of probation and a $30,000 fine after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations. He must also undergo psychological therapy along with teaching weekly English classes to immigrants.
“All the investors in “America” are rolling back into the new film. I haven’t had a single investor that has backed off or even experienced a single qualm given all the rigmarole that’s going on with me,” he said.
“I thought it would not be surprising if a few said, ‘Well, there’s too much heat around this,’ but that has not happened,” he added. “Our existing investors remain enthusiastic and a group of new investors has come on as well.”
As WND reported Thursday, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, in a hearing in New York City Oct. 15, ordered D’Souza must not leave San Diego County during his time at the center, which forced him to cancel a scheduled speech at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
The hearing came after he traveled to New York City to film a segment on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show “The Kelly File,” which aired Oct. 16.
WND has confirmed that before traveling to New York, D’Souza’s probation officer approved the trip. The officer decided that allowing D’Souza to travel two nights a month for media appearances was reasonable, despite Judge Berman’s original order last month that he must spend his nights at the center.
Department of Justice prosecutors became incensed after reading a Breitbart News story Oct. 7 reporting D’Souza intended to film and broadcast his court-ordered community service of teaching English one day a week to immigrants and minorities preparing for citizenship.
Berman agreed to hold the Oct. 15 hearing after government prosecutors sought to force the probation officer to limit D’Souza’s ability to access the media while serving his sentence.
Along with restricting travel, the judge barred D’Souza from filming the English classes.
D’Souza told WND he is trying to prove the viability of a model he called “recycled philanthropy.”
He explained how it works: “You give me money and I will make a film, running your dollar around the block. Then I give you the dollar back, plus a profit, and you give me the dollar back again, so I can make the next film. The same dollar achieves multiple benefits. The same dollar can be used over and over again.”
He has guarded the identity of his investors to protect them from any possible government harassment or retaliation.
“Even in the heat of the 2016 debate, the identity of none of my investors was disclosed,” he said. “We have been successful in protecting the names of all of our investors.”
D’Souza said he was pleased with how his relationship with Costco has turned out after, as WND reported in July the wholesaler removed his book “America” from the shelves just before the companion move movie opened in theaters. Amid adverse customer reaction, Costco re-ordered the book.
D’Souza told WND that Costco is the only outlet so far to place a back-order for copies of his “2016” DVDs to market along with the sale of “America” DVDs.
“Costco has done more than a major mea culpa on this,” D’Souza said. “I believe Costco has realized they had initially made a bad decision, and selling my book ‘America’ hast turned out to be very successful and very profitable for them.
“My thanks go not out to COSTCO but to the patriotic Americas that let their views be known,” he said.
Adjusting to nightly confinement
D’Souza said he checks into the community confinement center in San Diego at 7 p.m. each night and leaves early in the morning.
“The bulk of the day is mine, and I am able to work productively, with the only restriction being that I cannot travel outside of San Diego County,” he said.
“There are some 120 people there, about 60 per floor roughly, and we sleep on bunk beds strewn around in a large open area. I sleep on the top bunk, and I have a locker, much like high school. When I check in, I read. I also found a guy there who is a good chess player. So, we usually play one game of chess a day. That’s fun. I love chess and it’s kind of ironic that I found a guy who is not only good at chess but at my level,” said D’Souza.
Everyone there wears comfortable clothes.
“Every day I wear pretty much the same thing; dark pants, brown or black, a brown or black T-shirt, brown or black tennis shoes. That keeps me relatively inconspicuous,” he said.
D’Souza said he is adjusting to serving the sentence.
“I’m coming close to the end of my first month, and so far I have never felt ill-at-ease here,” he said.
“That surprises me. I was concerned with security. But I find if you keep to yourself, do your own thing and are polite to everyone, then everybody pretty much leaves you alone,” D’Souza said. “I haven’t been looking to make friends or converts or anything like that. I’ve been pretty much looking just to keep to myself and get my work done.”
He said he is doing a lot of observing, though, and it “almost feel like I am an anthropologist.”
“By keeping my eyes open, I’m getting all kinds of fascinating new material and insight into the culture that exists there,” he said.
He reaffirmed he thought he was issued a “tough sentence” in September, “when measured as proportionate to what I did.”
“I’m trying to handle it with grace and dignity, and even to bring as much good out of it as I can. It’s a sentence I think is a victory only when measured against the alternative that the U.S. government was trying to impose on me,” he said.
D’Souza explained to WND that had prosecutors succeeded in obtaining a prison sentence, his filmmaking efforts “would have been severely retarded.”
Prosecutors had asked for a prison term of at least 10 months, insisting D’Souza had not shown remorse. D’Souza’s allies contend it was a case of selective prosecution in which government prosecutors – instead of considering the offense a technical violation justifying only a fine – were politically motivated to seek payback for his two successful documentaries and companion bestselling books critical of Obama and what D’Souza regards as an anti-American ideology.
“The government made a sentencing motion to the judge that was riddled with deliberate inaccuracies and misrepresentations clearly calculated to deceive the judge into thinking it was normal for a person who did what I did to get substantial prison time,” D’Souza said.
“Not only did the government misrepresent the cases, they deliberately did so. To me, that’s just part of the corroboration of what the government’s intent was in this matter,” he said.
D’Souza has explained, “I am contrite for exceeding the campaign finance limit, but I am not contrite for being a critic of the Obama administration.”