Told solely through archival footage, and set against the backdrop of the Cold War, The Reagan Show captures the pageantry, absurdity, and charisma of a prolific actor’s defining role: Leader of the Free World.


Filmmakers: Pacho Velez and Sierra Pettengill
Year: 2017
Runtime: 75 mins
Format: HD
Country: USA


The Reagan Show is an all-archival documentary about the original performer- president’s role of a lifetime.

Teasing apart the spectacle at the heart of finger-on-the-button global diplomacy, the film follows Ronald Reagan's rivalry with the charismatic Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, tracing how the Communicator-in-Chief used his public relations chops to overcome Soviet mistrust, the objections of a skeptical press corps, and the looming threat of WWIII.

Chock full of wit and political irony, and told solely through 1980s network news and videotapes created by the Reagan administration itself, the film explores Reagan’s made-for-TV approach to politics as he faced down the United States’ greatest rival.


"This masterful documentary is crucial and unique" - Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

"An irony-laced view of the Reagan years and the birth of made-for-TV governing." - The Hollywood Reporter

"Fascinating" - Screen International 

"Clever and breathtaking" - Filmmaker Magazine

"This doc says volumes about then and now" - Rolling Stone


Pacho Velez (Director, Writer) is an award-winning filmmaker. His last film, Manakamana (co-directed with Stephanie Spray) won a Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival. It played around the world, including at the Whitney Biennial and the Toronto International Film Festival. His earlier film and theater work have been presented at venues such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, and on Japanese National Television. He is currently a Princeton Arts Fellow.

Sierra Pettengill (Director, Producer) is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker. Town Hall, her directorial debut (co-directed with Jamila Wignot), broadcast nationally on PBS in 2014. She produced the Oscar-nominated documentary Cutie and the Boxer, which won the directing award at Sundance 2013 and a 2016 News and Doc Emmy Award for Best Documentary. She was the archivist on Jim Jarmusch's Gimme Danger, Mike Mills' 20th Century Women, Robert Greene's Kate Plays Christine, and Matt Wolf’s Teenage, amongst many others.


Directors: Pacho Velez, Sierra Pettengill

Producer: Sierra Pettengill

Editors: Francisco Bello and Daniel Garber

Writers: Pacho Velez, Francisco Bello and Josh Alexander

Executive Producer: Houston King


Tribeca Film Festival

Locarno Film Festival