There is power in public relations and the highest bidder gets to manipulate the narrative. Influence is a documentary about just that. We get a story of how a public relations company went from getting the first female PM elected (Margaret Thatcher) by using advertising to exploit the hearts and minds of the people to being accused of inciting a civil war in South Africa by furthering the racial tensions between the white and black people.

We follow as the former head of a company goes from the top to the bottom over the course of 40+ years simply by doing his job. It’s a morality tale of how far someone will go for a client and what it means to be good at your job. Directors Diana Neille & Richard Poplak give us a fair and even look at what goes on behind closed doors. That the people “in charge” aren’t nearly as powerful as we think, but only as powerful as the people they hire to tell us are.

Hopefully, after this is seen by more people, the public will start to question every spin story they hear and wonder why the evil people in power are still in power. While those in public relations aren’t inherently evil, the ones they work for are and there should be stronger regulations to curb that. While Tim Bell didn’t set out to incite war, he is indirectly responsible for the violence that occurred. Thankfully, steps were taken to fix what he started, but the fact that it got as far as it did, needs to be held accountable for this and any future issues.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

SAFF 2021 Review – Influence

Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), May 19, 2021. Rating: G. Running time: 90 min.

PRODUCTION: An Eye Steel Film, Storyscope production. Producers: Neil Brandt, Bob Moore. Executive producers: Mila Aung-Thwin, Daniel Cross, Thandi Davids. 

CREW: Directors: Diana Neille, Richard Poplak. Cinematography: Glauco Bermudez, Mark Ó Fearghaíl. Editing: Ryan Mullins. Music: Florencia Di Concilio.

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