FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 18, 2016
Contact: Press@paul.senate.gov, 202-224-4343
Sen. Rand Paul Exposes $2 Million State Department Project Sending Filmmakers Worldwide to Promote Diplomacy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rand Paul today released the latest edition of ‘The Waste Report,’ which is an ongoing project cataloguing egregious examples of waste within the U.S. government.
In the latest edition of ‘The Waste Report,’ Sen. Paul draws attention to the U.S. Department of State expending $2 million taxpayer dollars, in the last year alone, to send filmmakers to various countries across the globe to show their documentaries in order to foster “understanding and cooperation, dialogue and debate.” Since the project’s beginning over 4 years ago, the government has spent nearly $5 million and has reached roughly 25,000 individuals worldwide – meaning the U.S. taxpayer has paid just over $200 a person.
‘The Waste Report’ can be found HERE or below.
Documentaries often give us insight into some subject with which we were previously not familiar. What you might also not be familiar with is how last year Uncle Sam spent over $2 million of your tax money to send filmmakers around the world showing their documentaries in the name of diplomacy.
The American Film Showcase, a partnership between the University of Southern California and the U.S. Department of State (State) “highlights the value of film in fostering understanding and cooperation, dialogue and debate.”
According to the Showcase’s overview video, people’s perception of the U.S. is often drawn from blockbuster movies, said while panning past a Captain America shield. The Showcase aims to spread a more realistic view of America around the world, but also “[t]o encourage American filmmakers and film experts to learn about life and culture in selected host countries.” Thus, the taxpayer has paid to send these film-makers on 7-10 day trips to foreign countries, screening their and others’ works.
In fact, over four years, the Showcase has sent filmmakers to 73 countries “reaching” roughly 25,000 people worldwide according to the programs figures. With approximately $5 million in grants from State over that time, the U.S. taxpayer is paying just over $200 a person “reached” by film.
To fund this project just this year would require the entire tax liability of 277 average American taxpayers. Of course, this year’s federal deficit, according to President Obama’s most recent budget, will be $616 billion. Meaning instead, Uncle Sam is more likely borrowing money from countries like China, and you’re paying the interest, to send filmmakers and their movies around the world.
So what kinds of movies reach people around the world, fostering healthy relationships? As you might or might not expect, there are films like Trash Dance, which tells of a woman’s journey to choreograph sanitation workers and their equipment in a dance; Top Spin, telling the tale of American teenagers’ quest to become table tennis champions; and Spellbound, a story about the U.S. National Spelling Bee.
FSO staff calculation using IRS data