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October 14th, 2013

2012 Caucus Documentary Premieres in Iowa on Friday, October 25th

CAUCUS is the intimate and revealing story of the 2011-2012 first-in-the-nation campaign in Iowa as eight Republicans fight to become their party’s standard-bearer and take on Barack Obama. The film is directed by veteran documentarian AJ Schnack, founder of the Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking.


Opens Oct. 25 in Des Moines at The Fleur
Opens Nov. 1 in Iowa City at Film Scene
and playing at select Fridley Theaters locations across Iowa on Monday, October 28

Note: CAUCUS hits theaters in Iowa on the same day as the
Republican Party of Iowa hosts the Iowa GOP Reagan Dinner this October.


at Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center- Film Society Lincoln Center


at Philadelphia Film Society’s PFS Theater at the Roxy
(also playing at the Philadelphia Film Festival in October)

CAUCUS had its world premiere at HotDocs 2013 in Toronto and was the closing night film at AFI Docs in Washington, DC. It most recently screened at the Camden International Film Festival in Maine.


For the past 40 years, the race for the American Presidency has begun in the state of Iowa, where candidates spend months traveling the state’s 99 counties hoping to win its “first-in-the-nation” vote and prove themselves a viable candidate.

In intimate, often funny and sometimes emotional detail, CAUCUS tells the story of the 2011-2012 campaign in Iowa as eight Republicans fight to become their party’s standard-bearer and take on Barack Obama. But to win, each has to first navigate state fairs, town hall meetings in pizza halls and agitated questions from the increasingly contentious GOP base.

A never-before-seen look at an unforgettable political season, CAUCUS re-introduces viewers to the remarkable and unorthodox GOP field with special focus on former Senator Rick Santorum – the working-class, social conservative warrior with no money and little operational support – as he tries to win the 2012 Iowa Caucus the old-fashioned way, by going town-to-town, meeting voters one-on-one, campaigning in a pick-up truck, and Representative Michele Bachmann – the charismatic Congresswoman and self-proclaimed Tea Party leader, who was born in Iowa and forms an instant connection with the religious and fiscal conservatives who still live there. Both would fight to stay relevant in a contest where nearly every candidate would lead the race at some point – the Governor of Texas, the former U.S. House Speaker, a former pizza chain CEO and the presumed national frontrunner that no one seems particularly enthusiastic about.

From Bachmann’s greatest triumph – her victory in the summer’s Ames Straw Poll – to the long autumn where her popularity plummeted and tracking the slow rise of Santorum, in his own persistent battle for attention against all odds and mountains of super-PAC cash, CAUCUS is both a postmortem on the 2012 campaign, and a glimpse at the challenges that the Republican party finds themselves still facing a year later.

“Veteran docmaker A.J. Schnack’s Caucus, a profile of six months with the Romneys and Santorums and Bachmanns and Cains and Pauls in Iowa, is one of the great political non-fiction films of our time, a worthy successor to Robert Drew’s Primary and Hegedus/Pennebaker’s The War Room.”
– Brandon Harris, Filmmaker Magazine

“An expertly assembled old-school verité-style political doc in the tradition of Primary and The War Room.”
– Geoff Pevere / Toronto Globe & Mail

One of the “Must See Documentaries of 2013…Schnack and Truesdell saw the facade of politicians fall away to reveal (their) true hearts, minds and awkward humor.”
– Jordan Smith /

“Terrific. If it comes to a theater anywhere near you, go see it. You won’t be sorry.”
– Chris Cillizza / The Washington Post

“An original and exciting film. (A) portrait full of wry, delicate and affecting observations about these strange creatures that run for office.”
– Robert Greene / Hammer to Nail


AJ SCHNACK (Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor) is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles. His feature documentary credits include WE ALWAYS LIE TO STRANGERS (2013), which he directed along with David Wilson and premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival and will premiere in New York at DOC NYC in November; CONVENTION (2009), which premiered as the Centerpiece Film at the AFI Silverdocs Film Festival and which was acquired and released by IFC Films/Sundance Selects; KURT COBAIN ABOUT A SON (2006), which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was released theatrically in North America, France, Japan, Brazil, Australia and aired on More4 in the United Kingdom; and GIGANTIC (A TALE OF TWO JOHNS) (2002), which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and was released theatrically in North America by Cowboy Pictures.

Schnack was nominated for a 2007 Independent Spirit Award for KURT COBAIN ABOUT A SON and was the first recipient of AFI Silverdocs’ Cinematic Vision Award. He was recently an editor on Michael Rapaport’s BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE: THE TRAVELS OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics and won the Producers Guild Award for Best Documentary.

He is the founder and co-chair of the Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking, which held its 6th edition at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City in January 2013. From 2005-2011, he wrote the popular nonfiction film blog, All these wonderful things. He has served on juries at Sheffield Doc/Fest, CPH:DOX, DokuFest Kosovo, Los Angeles, AFI Silverdocs, Miami, Sarasota, Camden, Denver, Ashland and the Independent Spirit Awards and has curated panels at Hot Docs, Sheffield Doc/Fest, AFI Silverdocs and True/False.


Directed and Edited by AJ Schnack
Produced and Photographed by AJ Schnack and Nathan Truesdell
Producers Shirley Moyers and Edward Parks
Executive Producers Niraj Bhatia and Frank Mele
Photographers Bill Ross and Turner Ross
Original Music Composed by Mark degli Antoni
Graphic Design by Juan Cardarelli and Eric M. Levy
Bonfire Films of America and Rival Pictures/Om Films

About the Author

The Iowa Republican

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