From the always provocative documentary series Empire Files comes Exposing Steve Bannon, a searing portrait of the central figure behind the curtain of the Trump presidency.
From its earliest moments, the film minces no words in its criticism of Bannon's motivations and personal character. Driven by what the filmmakers claim was a "youthful lust for war", Bannon served in the United States Navy from 1976 to 1983. During this period of time, he developed a political world view defined by a need for military supremacy.
His professional career has been colorful to say the least. After working as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs for six years, he undertook a brief stint as a producer of far right propaganda films. Later, he joined Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE). At one time a lucrative enterprise, known for its wildly successful World of Warcraft Marketplace, the company went belly up after three of its most prominent investors were arrested on charges related to child molestation.
Longing for a position of power and influence, he befriended influential alt-right journalist Andrew Breitbart, and ascended to the position of Executive Chairman of the Breitbart News website following the founder's death in 2012. Critiques of the site - particularly those that focus in on its hateful rhetoric and incendiary race baiting tactics - mirror those that have long plagued Bannon himself.
As disturbing as these career highlights appear to be, Bannon was relegated largely to the fringes before he hitched his wagon to the Donald Trump train. After curating a successful campaign strategy for his chosen candidate, he was appointed as the president's Chief Strategist when the new administration took office in January of 2017. The filmmakers hypothesize about what this might mean for the future of the U.S. and their relationship to the rest of the world. Needless to say, the diagnosis presented in the film isn't pretty.
As recounted in the film, Bannon's personal life is equally unappealing, allegedly marred by episodes of spousal abuse, child neglect and workplace harassment.
Exposing Steve Bannon provides an informative, but hugely unflattering portrait of a crucial figure in modern politics. Many may feel compelled to praise the film for its brutal honesty while others may dismiss it as unnecessarily cynical and smarmy.