‘Best of Enemies’ Wins SummerDocs Audience Award

The votes have been tallied, and the results are in! The winner of the 2015 SummerDocs Audience Award, sponsored by Candescent Films, is Best of Enemies, directed by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon. An encore screening will take place at the 2015 Hamptons International Film Festival.

Told with insight, prescience, panache and humor, the award-winning Best of Enemies chronicles the groundbreaking series of televised debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr., during the 1968 presidential conventions. The two rivals squared off on ABC for an hour each night, and television punditry would never be the same.


Best of Enemies

Directed with consummate skill by filmmakers Robert Gordon and Academy Award-winning Sundance Film Festival alum Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet From Stardom), Best of Enemies unleashes a highbrow blood sport that marked the dawn of pundit television as we know it today. In the summer of 1968 television news changed forever. Dead last in the ratings, ABC hired two towering public intellectuals to debate each other during the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

William F. Buckley Jr. was a leading light of the new conservative movement. A Democrat and cousin to Jackie Onassis, Gore Vidal was a leftist novelist and polemicist. Armed with deep-seated distrust and enmity, Vidal and Buckley believed each other’s political ideologies were dangerous for America. Like rounds in a heavyweight battle, they pummeled out policy and personal insult—their explosive exchanges devolving into vitriolic name-calling. Live and unscripted, they kept viewers riveted. Ratings for ABC News skyrocketed. And a new era in public discourse was born. The film was released by Magnolia Pictures this summer.

Following the screening on July 11 at Guild Hall, directors Robert Gordon (Johnny Cash’s America) and Morgan Neville (who won the Academy Award for Twenty Feet From Stardom, SummerDocs 2013) joined Dick Cavett—who appears in the film—in a conversation led by novelist and radio host Kurt Andersen. (With Graydon Carter, Andersen also founded the much-lamented Spy magazine):

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Candescent Films
 sponsored the Audience Award for the 2015 SummerDocs series. Candescent Films supports documentaries that illuminate social issues. Join the conversation @CandescentFilms.


The 2015 SummerDocs program was presented by TNT’s Public Morals.