WEST NEWBURY — Accolades continue to roll in for a locally made film that highlights the dangers to American democracy of media illiteracy in the era of “truthiness.”
Director Kevin Bowe of Maple Street recently won an Award of Merit in The Impact DOCS Awards competition for his documentary “Democracy Through the Looking Glass.”
The film uses the 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary to examine the shortfalls of the media as they relate to what Bowe calls the country’s “broken” political information system.
As the newest member of the Global Film Awards family of competitions, Impact DOCS is not an easy award to win.
Documentaries were submitted from 30 countries, with offerings from veteran award-winning filmmakers and fresh talent.
GFA has hosted trend-setting digital online competitions for 14 years. The competitions provide a wide range of filmmakers — from large powerhouses such as Disney, The Weinstein Company, Discovery and Ridley Scott to first-time filmmakers and students — the opportunity to receive valuable feedback from a judging panel of award-winning professionals in the film, television, videography and new media industries.
In winning an Impact DOCS award, Bowe joins the ranks of other high-profile winners of this international award, including Oscar-winning director Louie Psihoyos for his 2016 Best of Show “Racing Extinction,” Oscar winner Yael Melamede for “(Dis)Honesty — The Truth About Lies,” and Emmy Award winner Gerald Rafshoon for “Endless Corridors” narrated by Oscar winner Jeremy Irons.
“As a first-time filmmaker, I am honored to receive this award from Impact Docs,” said Bowe, who reaped praise for his film and the timeliness of its message soon after its completion.
In addition to premiering to a sold-out crowd at the Firehouse Center for the Arts, Bowe’s work was selected for the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival (www.newburyportfilmfestival.org).
It will run Sept. 17 at 11 a.m. in the Screening Room, 82 State St., with Bowe hosting a question-and-answer session with the audience following the screening.
“Every year, our mission is to bring high-caliber, thought-provoking documentaries to the North Shore of Massachusetts,” festival organizer Joanne Neary Morris said. “We are especially pleased to include this film as Kevin is local to the area.”
Later this month, Bowe’s documentary travels high up in the Rocky Mountains, where it was selected as one of 60 films for the 35th year of an independent film festival in Breckenridge Colorado. Through the years, BreckFest has hosted such guests as Alan Arkin, James Earl Jones, Marsha Mason, Sydney Pollack and Donald Sutherland.
“Democracy” also showcased at the Flying Frame Film Festival in Dixon Springs, Illinois, in April; the Anthem Film Fest in Las Vegas, Nevada in July; and the NetRoots Nation festival in Atlanta, Georgia, in August.
“The movie is about our broken political information system, which is amplified by technology and distorted by hyperpartisan social media,” Bowe said. “My goal was to examine how this affects democracy and what it means for our collective future — no matter what party you support.”
He and his wife, Julie Cook, own and operate Story Crafters, a video documentary company in West Newbury (www.story-crafters.com).
Bowe, who was embedded with the media for nine months at more than 100 campaign and press events leading up to the New Hampshire presidential primary, not only received broad access to the candidates — including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton —but also captured the circus-like atmosphere.
“I saw firsthand how the media behaved and how they selected stories on the campaign trail,” said Bowe, who worked as a producer, director, screenwriter, editor and videographer.
Bowe said the film offers countless examples of when the collective media was so intent on covering the “horse race” and other “shiny objects” of the campaign, that they failed to push for solutions to the problems people hope a president will address.
Rather than serve as an indictment of any one media outlet, Bowe said his film takes a broad look at how traditional media systems have struggled to stay relevant in the digital age.
Throughout the film, Bowe weaves in insights through interviews with journalism experts, such as Bob Schieffer, longtime moderator of CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center; Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory, and Charles Sennott of The Ground Truth Project.
For more information, visit www.democracythroughthelookingglass.com.