“The Undefeated,” the story of Sarah Palin’s rise to prominence, debuted in private screenings here in D.C. to mixed reviews. The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Bluey (and my former boss!) described it as “a powerful story of an amazing woman, but also a sad tale of a life changed forever.” Here at Hot Air, Ed called it “a terribly flawed film.”

But neither alloyed praise nor pure criticism threaten the confidence of the film’s producer, conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon, a self-described close personal friend of Andrew Breitbart’s. (The two share office space in L.A.)

“You can’t come out of the second act and see what she did in Alaska and not have respect for her as a serious person who takes on big issues in a big way,” Bannon said today at The Heritage Foundation Bloggers Briefing.

Without having seen the film, I can’t verify that statement — but it says a lot about Bannon’s belief in Sarah Palin, in addition to his confidence in his own abilities as a filmmaker. Somehow, it’s hard to mistrust him — mainly because, in plainspoken language, he pegs the pride of what he calls “the conservative intelligentsia” with pinprick specificity. (Bannon himself is a Harvard Business School alum and formerly of Goldman Sachs — so, presumably, he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the academically-minded elite.)

“Let’s take the best governors this country has ever had … and look at the most productive 18 months of their time as governor,” Bannon said. “Let’s take her time as governor. … Let’s match it up and compare. Ethics reform, cutting a budget that was in surplus, all she did in oil and gas … oh and by the way, in that 18 months, she also got pregnant and had a special needs baby. So, when she is derided everyday by the intelligentsia of the right, is that an act of commission or omission? Have they done their due diligence?”

Bannon clearly has — although, as Ed pointed out in his review, the film pretty closely parallels Palin’s autobiography Going Rogue. But Bannon also produced The Tea Party Trilogy, a series of three documentaries about three distinct facets of the Tea Party movement. Perhaps as much through those projects as through “Undefeated,” Bannon has come to respect Palin — and, consequently, has also committed himself to Palin’s defense.

“What I found in doing the research was a person … who had gone after — at every level — the Gordian knot problems that get to the heart of what makes a community thrive,” Bannon said. “What I saw in this woman was someone of as much intelligence, tenacity and drive as anyone I’ve ever worked with. … Through her own grit, determination, capability and intellect, she rose to prominence and it’s not because she’ s a media darling — it’s because of a tremendous amount of accomplishments.”
No review I read made me really want to see the film — but listening to Bannon at The Bloggers Briefing today did.