George Mason University

News at Mason

Kimberly Reed wraps up fall Visiting Filmmaker Series

October 26, 2018   /   by Mary Lee Clark

The Mason Visiting Filmmaker Series has been bringing films and artists to George Mason University’s campus since 1995. This fall, students heard from Dan Mirvish, creator of the film “Bernard and Huey” and co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival, and Tamer El Said, maker of “In the Last Days of Summer.” ​

The series will end with Kimberly Reed and her film “Dark Money,” a documentary examining the influence of untraceable money in politics and elections. The film takes place in Montana and follows a local journalist working to expose the impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. ​

Reed said her inspiration for the Sundance award-winning film started with her curiosity in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in 2010, a landmark case that ruled political spending is a form of free speech that is protected under the First Amendment. ​

"For me, it's really important to start documentaries with questions,” said Reed. ​

Her questions led her to a 2012 case in her home state of Montana, where her documentary starts. ​

"We were somewhat fortunate in that we could tell that story, we could connect a bunch of these dots that typically just don't get connected,” said Reed, who worked with investigative journalists and followed leaked information. “Sometimes people don't even know that there are dots there, because a lot of these things take place out of view." ​

Reed followed this story for six years. She said making the documentary allowed her to take the vast amount of information she collected and distill it in a way that is compact yet interesting. ​

"By telling a story in that way, you can have a much more potent retelling of that story—a much more in-depth examination of that issue,” said Reed. ​

According to Reed, one of her main motivations in finishing “Dark Money” was the bipartisan agreement surrounding the issue of money in politics. She said “Dark Money” could be a positive message in which dividing parties can move the political discussion forward instead of retreating.​

"You always get a remarkably consistent response rate of 75 to 80 percent of people that are polled that say the system is busted and we’ve got to fix it,” said Reed. ​

“Dark Money” will play at the Johnson Center Cinema on Oct. 30 at 4:30 p.m., and a discussion with Reed will follow.