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by Pat Frickey

Josh Kriegman/Elyse Steinberg, USA

"The name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers."

So begins this compelling documentary with Marshall McLuhan’s quote reminding us that Anthony Weiner may have become the inescapable victim of his own name. The filmmakers intimately capture his day-to-day struggle to win the Democratic primary for mayor of New York. Weiner is a grassroots politician who had been quite literally exposed sexting while in the House of Representatives in 2011, had resigned his post, and was now making a comeback two years later to run for mayor of New York.

Kriegman and Steinberg, friends of Weiner, set out to capture the glory of his upcoming victory. What surprises the filmgoers most, who know him only for his scandals, is discovering what a gripping, brilliant, and charismatic political animal Weiner is. His chances to win the mayoral nomination are phenomenal, till another sexting scandal hits the headlines. Yet, he doggedly, carries on campaigning. Always in the background, excuse the cliché, is his long suffering wife Huma Abedin (Hillary Clinton’s top advisor) who silently watches the slow-motion train wreck of his political career. Their young son is captured in the film forever, a fact which makes the self-inflicted downfall of Anthony Weiner a heartbreaking human tragedy.

Political junkies flocked to the showing of WEINER at the Abaton, and were rewarded afterwards with a lively discussion led by Niels Hegewisch. He had invited Martin Fuchs Hamburger Wahlbeobachter and Professor Katharina Kleinen-von Königslöw and began with the questions, what is wrong with Anthony Weiner and, ultimately, what is wrong with us. Fuchs thought Weiner should have ended his campaign immediately upon the new revelations. Insisting his downfall was not just an American phenomenon, he brought up the disgraced politician Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg who is reported to be returning to Germany. Kleinen-von Königslöw admitted there is a fascination with gossip, Klatsch und Tratsch, and yes, she couldn’t resist mentioning Donald Trump. She agreed social media is important today and the politicians in Germany have recently discovered Facebook. The audience would have been delighted for the discussion to have continued, but unfortunately time was at a premium as the next film was ready to be shown. Though WEINER didn’t win the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung award for the best political movie, it captivated the audience like a Greek tragedy of old.