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“Expect outrage, but also hilarity from the wild, guerilla-style documentary that reveals racism, class warfare and other ugliness at the heart of political ambition.”
– 
East Bay Times

NAT BATES FOR MAYOR, a feature documentary directed by Bradley Berman and Eric Weiss, tells the story of the outrageous 2014 mayor’s race in Richmond, CA, home to the second largest refinery in California. In a brazen move, Chevron spent more than $3 million to back 83-year-old African American stalwart Nat Bates.

Bates makes a Faustian bargain with the city’s corporate behemoth in a cagey attempt to preserve the long-standing but waning power of Richmond’s African-American working-class community, whose rich history dates back to the formation of the Kaiser shipyards during World War Two. It’s black against white. It’s pro-development forces against eco-friendly Progressives. It’s David versus Goliath. Is Nat Bates the savior or stooge? The movie is a wacky ride with some of the most entertaining and offbeat political characters you’ll ever meet.

The guerilla-style documentary follows the candidates on the campaign trail, in revealing personal moments, and during the city’s audacious Jerry Springer-like city council meetings, as they lock in a battle for the mayor’s seat and the future of the Bay Area’s overlooked oil town. There are cameos by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and legendary civil rights leader Andrew Young. The documentary is a potent mix of corporate influence, race, gentrification, homophobia, political self-determination, and humor—all told through the lives of bigger-than-life small-town characters.


Reviews

“Film also highlights the often nasty city council meetings that at times broke down completely. Those with an interest in local politics will find much to glean from this film.”
-Library Journal

“Expect outrage — but also hilarity from the wild, guerilla-style documentary that reveals racism, class warfare and other ugliness at the heart of political ambition.”
-East Bay Times

“It’s like watching a year-long boxing match with no referee.”
-East Bay Express

“Recommended. Giving a viewer something to think about on both sides, the documentary builds some suspense as the election outcome is awaited…The issues raised are faced in many other places in the country besides Richmond.”
-Educational Media Reviews Online

“Recommended. Nat Bates for Mayor offers an often fascinating fly-on-the-wall view of small city politics and the frequent lapses into pettiness and tribalism that result in polarized communities.”
-Video Librarian

“A fascinating history of that [Richmond] campaign…a timely reminder of the stakes involved in a key Left Coast battle against big money in politics that resonated nationally…Captures the defining moment of a campaign old-fashioned in many ways but hyper-modern because of its indirect business financing.”
-Steve Early, author of Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of an American City

Nat Bates for Mayor is the perfect documentary. It is as entertaining as it is informative and educational, and will have sitting at the edge of your seat. It is an excellent resource for educators teaching on the topics of politics, social movements, urban life, environmentalism, race relations, and corporate control. I cannot recommend it more highly.”
-Clayton Childress, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto

“Bradley Berman and Eric Weiss go behind the scenes of Richmond, CA citizens’ ongoing struggle to breathe in the shadow of the Chevron oil refinery.”
-Bay Area Reporter

“Shows us what happens when a multinational corporation gets involved. The microcosmic, local version of Citizens United at the national level, and a true harbinger of things to come…Serves as a document and an instruction manual as other towns and politicians find themselves taken over by corporate interests.”
-CineSource Magazine

“Filmmakers do an excellent job of neither judging nor praising any candidate. Everyone has their flaws, everyone comes off looking a little dirty.”
-Jason Watches Movies


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