November 1, 2018

Former CIA Operative Discusses Russian Political Unrest at Active Measures Screening

The UChicago Institute of Politics screened the film Active Measures at The Revival and featured a panel afterwards for a discussion with the director of the film, co-writers of the film, and former CIA operative and 2016 presidential candidate Evan McMullin. 

The documentary, directed by Jack Bryan and co-written by Marty Clements and Bryan, tackles the highly contentious and daunting relationship between President Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin, as well as high-profile Russian oligarchs and the Russian mob.

“We know Russians attacked the core of our democracy,” McMullin said. 

Active Measures chronicles a number of scandals surrounding President Trump’s relationship with Russia, including a failed casino venture, Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, and alleged money laundering schemes between Trump and the Russian mob. The film also documents political unrest in Eastern Europe, including the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Russian invasion of Crimea.

When asked why he created this film, Bryan said there was good coverage across news sources about the subject, but the core concepts were just getting lost. “Film was the appropriate medium to connect those dots,” he said. Film allows him to connect the often-conflicting streams of information bombarding Americans from various news sources.

Clements said during the discussion that many people, such as lower level policy makers and officials, were behind the scenes of the Russian mob figures and politicians, and it was crucial that the filmmakers interviewed and formed relationships with these lesser known figures first to gain the trust of the more prominent leaders.

Bryan told the audience that the film seeks to create a certain immunity to the controversies of the topic. Unlike Americans, Eastern Europeans have grown up watching these political and economic catastrophes occur, such as the traumatic protests of the Orange Revolution. 

Frequently, everyday citizens in the U.S. will trust information from someone who truly doesn’t have their best interest at heart, according to Bryan.

McMullin said he hopes the film will better educate the American people and help them make better voting decisions.