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The First Angry Man
A documentary by Jason Cohn & Camille Servan-Schreiber

57 minutes, color, 2020

Watch on Apple TV



If you ever wondered how the great public ambitions of postwar America collapsed into a permanent tax revolt (cue the Tea Party) and the election of a so-called populist president, look no further than Howard Jarvis, whose 1978 ballot initiative, Proposition 13, changed everything in California and beyond. "The First Angry Man," a new documentary by award-winning filmmakers Jason Cohn and Camille Servan-Schreiber ("Eames: The Architect and the Painter"), unpacks the dramatic campaign, its quirky characters and its enduring consequences.

Featuring lively archival footage and interviews with first-hand witnesses to the events, including governor Gray Davis, Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz and anti-tax firebrand Grover Norquist, "The First Angry Man" draws a bracket around the last four decades of American political life, inviting viewers to see our era as an anomaly in American history, at odds with some of our nation's deepest underpinnings.

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"A must watch! 'The First Angry Man' is fascinating history all on its own. But the film also tells Jarvisí story at an opportune moment...and contains a timeless lesson about the role of government. When well-intentioned leaders abdicate their responsibility to confront the crises of the day, bad policies (and dangerous leaders) emerge to fill the vacuum."
-SF Weekly


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