going upriver: the long war of john kerry

2004

"Grade A!" — Entertainment Weekly

Premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2004

Official selection of the 2006 Whitney Biennial

Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry takes an extraordinary inside look at character and moral leadership during a time of national crisis. Loosely based on Douglas Brinkley's best-selling book Tour of Duty, this incredibly intimate film delves into the life of John Kerry and focuses on the key events that made him a national figure and the man he is today. The film places particular emphasis on his bravery during the Vietnam War and his courageous opposition to the war upon his return. It should be noted that Butler interviewed all of the living Swift Boat veterans who were on Kerry's two boats, thus rendering a comprehensive view of Kerry's experiences in Vietnam.

George Butler has known Senator Kerry since 1964 and in 1969 began photographing him, in an effort to document his life and career. Using his unique collection of images, the film weaves together Butler's photography with archival material, interviews with Kerry's family and closest associates as well as contemporary footage of him at home and abroad. More than a biography of John Kerry, Going Upriver is the story of an American generation that came of age in the tumultuous '60s and that has now come to national leadership at the beginning of a new century — when issues of war and morality once again hold center stage.

"Mr. Butler, best known for 'Pumping Iron,' the 1977 documentary that first turned Arnold Schwarzenegger into a national commodity, can be a powerful storyteller. And nowhere more so than when he gets to the scene where Mr. Kerry and his buddies protest the war by throwing medals and ribbons over a fence onto the capital steps...Watch this and try not to weep." — Frank Rich, The New York Times

"Penetrating! A must see!" — John Urbancich, The Sun Newspapers

"It's a movie much like its subject: passionate but deliberate, avoiding sensation but determined to tell the full, true story. — Richard Corliss, Time

"Stirring! A richly documented history." — David Ansen, Newsweek

"Butler knows how to skillfully assemble a film." — Paul Sherman, Boston Herald

"Essential Viewing for people on all sides of the political spectrum." — Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Daily News

"****!" — Christian Science Monitor