Actor Brad Pitt and Director George Butler II were in attendance for the screening of the film “Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry” on the MU campus. The screening took place in front of a full house at Jesse Auditorium Wednesday evening. Reasons for attending the event were diverse, including wanting to watch the film, to support Democrats and to see Brad Pitt. Shari Korthuis and her daughter, Alaina Boyett, are both John Kerry supporters but admit that Pitt’s appearance persuaded them to come to the event.
“I’m a John Kerry supporter. I wanted to see the film and Brad Pitt,” Korthuis said. “She’s loved him since he was five,” Korthuis said of her daughter. “Alaina has seen all of his movies.”
Kim Verslues of Jefferson City admitted she came only to see Pitt. She was happy just to be in a half mile radius of him.
Pitt walked across the stage to a standing ovation, as camera flashes lit up Jesse Auditorium.
“It’s great to be on this campus again,” Pitt said. “This is cool. In my day, I dedicated more of my time to Harpo’s and the Blue Note than to things like this.”
Pitt said he wasn’t here to push his candidate on anyone, but he felt it was his duty to get the right information out to people.
“Context is King,” he said.
Pit spoke against the anti-Kerry film, “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,” which will air Friday night in St. Louis, Kansas City and Cape Girardeau courtesy of the Sinclair Broadcast Group.
“This kind of character assassination takes us away from the issues,” Pitt said. “I firmly believe what Sinclair has chosen to do is bad for us, and that is why I’m here.”
Butler directed the film, “Going Upriver.” He is well-known for making “Pumping Iron,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Butler has known Kerry for 40 years and was present at Kerry’s anti-war marches on Washington.
His film focuses on Kerry’s years in and after Vietnam.
“I’ve tried to get the best story,” Butler said. “A lot of the footage is shot by John Kerry. The film is not related to Kerry’s political campaign. No financing, no advice, nothing has come from the campaign.”
About half of the audience left following Pitt’s farewell after the film. Those who remained asked Butler five questions. One self-proclaimed Republican asked Butler what he would say to persuade the Republicans, now quickly following Pitt’s lead out of the auditorium, to vote for Kerry.
Butler said everyone should vote for the most honest and the most hard-working candidate.
Others asked questions primarily focused on Kerry’s stance on the war in Iraq.
Most left the auditorium satisfied by the event.
“It was a very good film,” Audra Schupbach, an MU sophomore, said. “I’m leaving happy that I saw it. I feel much more educated.”