Entertainment brief: @nenshi4mayor documentary showing and Social Media 4 Culture panel discussion, September 30

By Andrea Llewellyn

Mayor Naheed Nenshi has a great self-deprecating sense of humour and a humble way of speaking, even when introducing a film about his rise to power as the mayor of Calgary. Mayor Nenshi also pointed out that the real star of this film is the Calgary Sun’s own Rick Bell, controversial page 5 columnist, but more on that later. 

The documentary @nenshi4mayor, a 50-minute made-for-TV movie produced by Pyramid Productions, explored the blow-by-blow action of the 2010 Calgary municipal election, and, more importantly, about how a virtually unknown mayoral candidate and Mount Royal University professor came to pull off one of the biggest election upsets in the history of Calgary.

The highlight of this film was the commentary provided by the perfect set of opinionated narrators and commentators– the only person missing was Barb Higgins, former CTV News anchor and 2010 mayoral candidate, but her role in the outcome of the election was not overlooked and neither was the shit in her cornflakes (or rather, ArtsVote’s cornflakes). Rick Bell, political strategist for Team Nenshi Stephen Carter, and CityTV’s Mike McCourt are the stars of this film, acting as the main commentary. If you want a taste of what you are in for, Rick Bell’s online biography states that “he delights in tormenting those in authority at the city and provincial levels.” Pleasant.

Although this film was entertaining and informative, I’m unsure whether it would appeal to viewers who failed to closely follow the election. Conversely, the film is bite-sized, so it is an easy watch even for non-politics buffs, though they may not find it as engaging.  

However, my larger concern is that the film was advertised as analyzing the impact of social media such as Twitter on the outcome of the 2010 Calgary municipal election, but failed to delve beyond the surface of the issue. This is because the real story is the “word-of-mouth” strategy used in this campaign and its branding, not the use of social media, which is much more secondary. 

Post-film, there was a panel discussion with very interesting comments about engaging people in discussion and using online resources. Panelists included marketing strategist Jim Button,  Team Nenshi communications manager Richard Einarson, political commentator DJ Kelly, Mayor Nenshi’s communications advisor Daorcey Le Bray, and Calgary Community Manager for Yelp Wendy Peters. 

Unfortunately, this panel and its moderator, Camilla di Giuseppe, failed to engage the audience. The room gradually emptied down to core Nenshi supporters by halfway through the discussion. 

Leave a comment