Fred Karger - Campaign Documentary Premieres in Hollywood


Fredthe documentary by John Fitzgerald Keitel about gay Republican politico Fred Karger’s historic run for the presidency in 2012, premiered to an appreciative packed audience at the Sundance Sunset Theater in Los Angeles last week. Karger rented the theater after the film had been rejected by Outfest, which a number of viewers were stunned to discover. Out and proud NBA player Jason Collins was among those who turned out for the screening.

Karger, a formidable senior consultant on the campaigns of such Republican politicos as Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, says he came up with the idea of running for the GOP nomination for president during the Prop. 8 campaign. His goal was to get into a debate and challenge the party and voters to recognize him as an openly gay man with the credentials and ideas to better represent the GOP than someone like Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum. A long shot from the beginning, given the rightward trend of the party, Karger nonetheless received considerable media attention in New Hampshire and Iowa—and nationally when a Washington Post reporter took him seriously and Mother Jones did a sizable feature focused on Karger versus Mitt and the Mormon Church. And such publications as US News and World Report profiled Karger and the documentary when it first came out last April. 

As most people who followed the Prop. 8 story know, Karger was vexed by Romney and the Mormons, whose role in the hate-filled anti-gay Prop. 8 campaign Karger uncovered through his Californians Against Hate campaign (now Rights Equal Rights). He dedicated his effort to the memory of the young gay teens who had committed suicide the year before.

And youth were a major foucs - and a major political constituency. Karger won the Saint Anselm College Republican Straw Poll in Manchester, New Hampshire in early April 2011, beating Mitt Romney by five votes. That support broadened in July 2011, when he was tied with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in a Zogby poll. By January 2012, Karger beat then-favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann in the New Hampshire primary by 138 votes! 

Karger told a post-screening panel moderated by his cousin, Fandango's Dave Karger, that he asked Keitel if he wanted to “come along for the journey” and document the ups and downs of campaigning without adequate funding and name recognition, which itself produced the humorous slogan “Fred Who?”

And while Karger met the minimum criteria of GOP state parties to get into the debates, he was still not allowed to participate. Instead, the debates allowed audience members to boo as gay servicemember Stephen Hill asking a question about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" via YouTube while serving in Iraq. Rick Santorum stumbled a bit, didn't thank Hill for his service and said he'd repeal DADT. The film asks: what would have happened had Karger been in that debate? 

But Fred does shows how Karger succeeded in his other main goal: “making it easier for LGBT youth to be who they are.” The film is replete with scenes and commentary from young people in near empty rooms inspired by Karger’s verve, vision and mission.

Indeed, featured in the film is James Duke Mason, grandson of famed actor James Mason and son of singer Belinda Carlisle, who recently filed papers to run for the West Hollywood City Council. 

Also at the event, actor/therapist Chad Allen and Beau Johnson, also featured in the film.

Derrick Davis and Kevin Merrell, Mormons who lost their faith in the church during the Prop. 8 campaign, also featured in the film.

Former State Sen. Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield with his partner Eli Almanza.

And Richard Ayoub, editor in chief of RumorFix and Variety's Ted Johnson with Jason Collins.

Also there were two beloved, smart politicos who cross the aisle—former L.A. City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and longtime consultant Allan Hoffenblum.   

Karger and Keitel are looking for a distributor for the documentary. Here's the trailer:

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More Reviews of FRED!!!
Openly Gay Presidential Candidate Fred Karger Makes For A Fascinating Doc
Posted on July 18th, 2014 at 5:18 am


Fred Karger has a place in American history and you probably don’t even know his name, but after seeing a his new documentary you will probably want to meet him and be his friend.

The 64-year-old is the star of Fred that premiered Thursday night at the Sundance Sunset Theater in West Hollywood.

In 2012, Fred became the first openly gay candidate to run for the presidency. There isn’t one second watching the film that you believe Fred has a chance at the biggest office in the land.

But the best part is Fred knows it too. His campaign slogan is”Fred Who?” Exactly … he asks the question before the rest of us did. But you will find him folksy and likeable, you actually start rooting for him — you want him to get a chance at appearing in one of the Republican debates.

Yes, I said Republican. That’s the other twist — Fred is an openly gay Republican.

Fred Karger Came Out At 58

During his campaign and now with the film, Fred’s goal is to inspire LGBT youth and let them know they don’t have limitations. He likened himself to Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American to run for president in 1972 — she paved the way for Jesse Jackson in 1988 and Barack Obama in 2008.

When Fred ran for office in 2012, I always wondered “Isn’t that the same guy who was trying to save a gay bar in Laguna Beach?” I have fond memories of the Boom Boom Room too, but I wasn’t about to start a petition to save it. What I didn’t know is the bar was the old gay establishment in the Western United States and it was that grass roots effort that catapulted Fred out of the closet in 2006 at the age of 58.

In 2008, he continued his gay rights advocacy by starting Californians Against Hate (now Rights Equal Rights), to publicly expose major donors to anti-gay Prop 8 and he organized boycotts. Fred was always involved in politics, he did work with the Ronald Reagan Administration and he worked for a political consulting and public affairs firm for 27 years.

Outfest Rejects ‘Fred’

In the film, you see lots of people asking “Fred Who?,” you see him talking to nearly empty rooms of potential supporters and you see him being rejected from every Presidential debate even though he met the minimum criteria. But, you see Fred — who funded most of his efforts on his own — never giving up. After all he was making history.

And even now it appears Fred’s battles aren’t over. Although the director of the film, John Fitzgerald Keitel, has made it into Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Festival, every year since 1992, he was turned down this year for his Fred film.

So just like Fred did in the film, he threw his own party. He rented out the Sundance Theater during the same week that Outfest was going on and he got gay icons like Jason Collins and Chad Allen to show up. He got Fandango’s Dave Karger, who is Fred’s cousin, to moderate a panel and he threw an after party at the Malibu Fish Grill.

Fred is worth renting on Netflix.

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FRED in New Hampshire

FRED toured New Hampshire for nine days in March, where much of the campaign and the documentary filming took place.  FRED served as the opening night film at the MONIFF International Film Festival and then screened all over the Granite State.
There were also rough cut screenings held in Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, New York and Salt Lake City last winter.



FRED was shown at Concord High School in the Christa McAuliffe Auditorium to over 200 students.  Take a look at the front page story by Iain Wilson with photos by Geoff Forester of this amazing afternoon:  CLICK HERE
Concord Monitor


Documenting the New Hampshire Screening Tour for CNN

We made six iReports for CNN of the FRED New Hampshire Screening Tour.  Thanks go out to the great work of Kevin Miniter who shot all the footage and Chris Morrow who did a superb job of editing and posting them.  You'll find an introduction to each screening, B roll of the venue and interviews and reviews of the film including a conversation with filmmaker John Fitzgerald Keitel who made the documentary. Just click on the images below!
Day 1 - The World Premiere, MONiff International Film Festival

Day 2 - University of New Hampshire

Day 3 - Press and Friends Screening at the Centennial Hotel

Day 4 -- New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College

Day 5 - Concord High School

Day 6 - Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College

* We've linked all iReports to identical YouTube version
FRED Synopsis

2014, USA, 102 minutes
Director: John Fitzgerald Keitel

When Fred Karger began running for President of the United States in February 2010 filmmaker John Fitzgerald Keitel was at his side. John spent the next two years documenting his historic campaign as the first openly gay candidate for president from either major political party. Now a one hour documentary, FRED is out and gives audiences an real inside look at the roller coaster campaign. Follow Fred from the towns of New Hampshire to the Iowa State Fair.  Watch as he takes on Fox News and Mitt Romney. See the reaction from voters to any openly gay GOP candidate as the campaign travels from New Orleans to New York, from Gay Pride Parades to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. Watch Fred as he fights for inclusion in the debates, takes on his opponents and campaigns to let lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans know that anything is possible. It’s an hour of history that will make you laugh, cry and guaranteed to delight all audiences.

Here's the Movie Poster