A new documentary is making its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival about Rudy Giuliani weaving together musical numbers to give the operatic flavor of the lawyer and politician, once nicknamed “America’s Mayor.”
“Rudy! A documentary directed by Jed Rothstein, is largely a sober and traditional analysis of Giuliani’s unexpected political path, from New York attorney general to mayor and hero of September 11, 2001, to promoter of false legal challenges to the 2020 election in which he was then president.” Donald Trump was defeated.To fully express Giuliani’s exaggerated victories and failures, Rothstein felt he needed a Greek chorus.
“His story is very operatic,” Rothstein said in an interview. “Music can bring different emotional truths about having someone talk about it. It’s definitely funky for a documentary, but it gives us a lot of truth. I wanted a movie that would depict her arc madness as a character.”
Rothstein initially contemplated creating operatic interludes for his film about Giuliani, who was known for his admiration for art, but soon realized that the requirements for staging an interwoven opera were too great. Instead, he turned to Broadway musicians and performers to compose and perform compositions.
Rudy! A Documusical, which hopes to find a distributor in Tribeca, is the most important documentary to date that seeks to portray the past 30 years of one of the United States’ most disparate politicians, who was once named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
The film debuted in Tribeca—a multidisciplinary festival that resulted in part from the 9/11 attacks—just as the House Committee’s investigation into the January 6, 2021 mutiny began in the U.S. Capitol. Giuliani, whose legal license has been suspended for lying about the 2020 election, met with the House committee recently for hours.
Giuliani was not involved in the documentary, although Rothstein said he made several attempts to get him to sit down for an interview. “Rudy! A Documusical instead interviews former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton; Reverend Al Sharpton; journalist Andrew Kurtzman, author of “Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City” and press secretary to Giuliani on his successful first campaign for mayor, Ken Friedman. It also contains a forensic psychiatrist who helped explain some of the actions surrounding the Capitol riots.
For Rothstein, who has lived in New York for years and among his films “WeWork: Or The Making and Breaking of a 47 Billion Unicorn,” Giuliani’s story is part of America’s story.
What prompted her, said Rothstein. “Why did he go this way? What does his prominent role in our modern history tell us?”
Some of the most vivid parts of the film revisit the mayor’s Giuliani campaign against David Denkins, based on a judicial platform that exploited racial dynamics. The film did not fully criticize Giuliani. A review of the 9/11 footage made Rothstein even more impressed with his leadership at the time.
“He’s someone who’s always been interested in ethics,” Rothstein said. “Like I said, your dad told you to look in the mirror when you shave in the morning and be able to see yourself with pride. I wonder how he feels about that now.”
“Professional problem solver. Subtly charming bacon buff. Gamer. Avid alcohol nerd. Music trailblazer.”