"Courting Condi" Screening Canceled: Director Blames Her "Cronies"

The Stanford Daily reports that a screening of "Courting Condi," a movie about Condoleezza Rice, has been abruptly canceled:

Stanford Film Society (SFS) canceled its Dec. 2 screening of "Courting Condi," a "musical docu-comi-tragedy" about U.S. Secretary of State and Hoover Fellow Condoleezza Rice. Although the filmmakers speculated that Rice's supporters forced SFS to cancel the screening, SFS officers said they will not screen the film due to its poor quality.

"Courting Condi" follows Devin Ratray, a musician in love with Rice who travels across the U.S. to learn about her past and win her heart. Ratray and his obsession with Rice are fictional, but according to the filmmakers, the facts about Rice's past are real.

Sebastian Doggart, the film's director, said his purpose was to "portray a woman who has not been sufficiently investigated and portrayed in the media . . . in an entertaining way." Doggart hoped the screening would "stimulate debate" about whether the Secretary of State should be allowed to return to Stanford as a faculty member.

Doggart believes that a conservative force within the University or even the federal government shut down the screening.

"I think someone strong-armed [SFS]," he said. "I suspect someone made a call to them and said, '[screening this film] is not in your best interest.'"

Elsewhere, Doggart blamed "Rice's cronies" for "scaring the Stanford Film Society into pulling the screening." The film society president responded in a letter:

I canceled the screening of "Courting Condi" partly because the film itself is poorly made and boring, and partly because of an incident in which the filmmaker sent offensive emails to several Stanford professors and administrators. But, 12 hours after canceling the screening, I was fielding calls and emails from major newspapers and from the leaders of student groups on campus, all of whom believed a lie that Mr. Doggart had pulled from thin air: that the Stanford Film Society was excited to show the film until "pro-Rice cronies" scared us into backing out.

I thought Mr. Doggart's ludicrous claims of censorship were quite amusing...until I realized that people actually believed him. I was shocked. In my time at Stanford, I've seen countless protests and demonstrations targeting President Bush, the Hoover Institution and University administration. I've never heard a single complaint about Stanford trying to shut anyone down. I think the University has shown, a thousand times over, an extreme sensitivity to free speech and a firm commitment to open dialogue, no matter the topic.

I would guess that members of the Hoover Institution could care less what we Stanford students think about Condoleezza Rice. But even if someone from Hoover was silently seething over a student screening of an anti-Rice documentary, I'd bet he or she is smart enough to know not to try to shut it down and give students an opportunity to cry victim.