A film exploring disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner’s 2013 bid for mayor of New York City premieres Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival, providing a remarkable account of a creative and political gamble that badly backfired.
The politician, who resigned from Congress in 2011 after revelations that he sent lewd text messages to women and was then hit with a second scandal during his New York mayoral run two years later, is the subject of a 90-minute documentary appearing at the independent festival.
The film was produced with not only Weiner’s cooperation, but also that of his wife, Huma Abedin, the longtime top aide to current Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.
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Huma Abedin and husband Anthony Weiner in New York last April
Weiner in 2011 admitted sending inappropriate photos and text messages to as many as six women before and after his wedding to Abedin. He identified himself by the nickname ‘Carlos Danger’
Weiner arriving at Huff Post Live studios in New York in an undated photo
According to a New York Times report on the film, ‘Weiner’ ‘provides an unfettered look at the implosion of Mr. Weiner’s mayoral campaign and a wrenching inside account of the couple’s interactions in the aftermath of his second explicit texting scandal.’
The report describes several ‘juicy moments’ about Weiner in the film, including even a panicked escape from a McDonald’s restaurant to avoid interacting with a woman with whom he had sent inappropriate text messages.
Abedin,remains a close confidante of Clinton – who has endured her own share of humiliation over her husband’s misconduct. The film captures her at the height of her time as one of the top staffers at the State Department and before Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The showing of the film at the Sundance this Sunday is bad timingfor Clinton’s campaign. especially on the heels of the release of 13 Hours, the Hollywood account of the Sept. 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. Clinton was secretary of state at the time – and Huma was at her side.
GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump has been making hay on the campaign trail over Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct, and recently rented out a movie theater in Des Moines to show free screenings of the movie – a week and a half before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses.
Weiner exchanged a long series of texts with a woman named Sydney Leathers, who eventually went public with them
A note Weiner sent to Leathers
Weiner’s texts to Leathers occurred after he resigned from Congress for a first instance of sending inappropriate messages
Hillary Clinton does not directly appear in the movie, only in news footage. But Abedin is front-and-center throughout the film, portrayed as the would-be savior for her husband’s political prospects.
Asked at one point if Abedin wanted him to re-enter politics, Weiner says ‘she did,’ going on to explain, ‘She was very eager to get her life back that I had taken from her,’ referring to the first sexting scndal in 2011.
Abedin has come under scrutiny from congressional Republicans over her actions at the State Department, ranging from questions about personal billing and vacation practices to her influence on the agency as well as the Clinton family’s charity, the Clinton Foundation.
‘Weiner’ is scheduled for release in movie theatres on May 20, as well as a television premiere on Showtime in October.
According to the Times report, Abedin and Weiner have asked to see the movie before its release, but have been refused. Both Abedin and a Clinton campaign spokesperson declined to comment to the newspaper.
The film was directed by a former Weiner chief of staff, Josh Kriegman, who led his district office in 2005 and 2006.
Abedin is depicted in the film as turning to other Clinton insiders for advice, instead of her husband, including longtime Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines, who advises her not to appear in public with Weiner as he casts his vote in the mayoral race.
At another moment, the Times report says, the couple is shown in a small office asking associates for campaign donations, with Abedin using a ‘sweet voice’ and asking, ‘How was the engagement? I want all the details.’
Minutes later, she hangs up and tells Weiner in a flat tone, ‘His wife is going to max out, and he’ll try to raise another five.’