Column: “There’s this very toxic energy circulating.” Alexandra Pelosi talks about her mom, dad, and a new documentary

Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi arrived at the White House with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a state dinner, and she’s just produced a unique behind-the-scenes documentary about her mother. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Alexandra Pelosi was living one of those days.

She is still tough from the hammer attack on her father by a QAnon madman. “I haven’t slept through the night since then,” Pelosi admitted.

One morning, I find her making a Betty Crocker birthday cake, preparing her New York apartment for an invasion of teenage girls and cleaning up broken glass from a downed Christmas tree, all while fending off her sister demanding to know why. that It’s included in the new documentary she made about their famous mom.

The trailer had just come out.

“I manage PR in my family,” said Pelosi, who immigrated, while a “Happy Birthday” banner — hanging in honor of her 15-year-old daughter — did her best to brighten things up.

Pelosi, the youngest of the five children of Nancy and Paul Pelosi, is a filmmaker who launched her career with the cheeky documentary Travels With George, a true look at the 2000 presidential campaign of Texas Governor George W. Bush. She spent months living off the campaign charter, as a video camera producer for NBC News. Pelosi has since produced more than a dozen documentaries, on topics such as child poverty, big money in politics, and the effects of the tech boom in San Francisco, where she was born and raised.

Using the camera as her constant companion — and occasionally annoying those around her — Pelosi filmed thousands of hours of her mother, in public and private moments, doing housework and Speaker work for the House of Representatives. The final product airs Tuesday on HBO.

“That’s my point of view and it’s my movie,” Pelosi said, noting that some in her family might prefer a more worshipful view of their out-of-the-way dad. She said the speaker—who she repeatedly referred to, with a professional distance, as “Nancy Pelosi”—was not a particularly collaborative subject.

“If I tried to ask her out, she wouldn’t play ball with me,” Pelosi said. “She never gave me permission to film. She always said, ‘Why are you filming all this?'” You never understood. So it wasn’t authorized, you never signed… I saw the trailer, and she said to me, “You’ve got to take this, this and this and that.”

“Go ahead, Mom, the leader of YouTube,” Pelosi said, in a tone of outraged children all over the world.

She indicated that the speaker had no opinion on this issue.

At age 52, Pelosi has the energy of her mother’s hummingbird, traces of a husky-speaking voice, and an express subway train connecting more New York than California. She spoke via Zoom, wearing a purple turtleneck—her trademark color—with an crumbling Christmas tree and gifts scattered off camera.

Pelosi described her latest project as a happy accident that stemmed from a 2018 conversation at the HBO Café with Geof Bartz, a frequent collaborator and the network’s supervising editor of documentaries. She mentioned her extensive catalog of family snaps, and Bartz agreed to take a look and see if there was something in there.

That November, Democrats took control of the House, and Pelosi was inaugurated in a history-making second round as Speaker. The documentary’s perspective shifted from a look back at Pelosi’s career to a more contemporary account of her battles with then-President Trump, culminating in the Jan. 6 raid on Congress by insurgents aimed at upending the 2020 election.

In October, the House committee investigating the failed coup attempt released excerpts from iPhone footage taken by Alexandra Pelosi that day, showing lawmakers fleeing for their lives and desperately looking for help to quell the riots. At one point, an angry Nancy Pelosi said she wanted to punch Trump, who incited violence and watched his invading supporters on TV.

The tinfoil hat crowd took advantage of Alexandra Pelosi’s presence as somehow proving that the whole thing — the desecration of the Capitol, the attack on democracy — was staged. No wonder there. Pelosi said she was ready for that kind of insanity, as well as efforts to embarrass her mother by turning her act into a parody of the speaker’s not-so-fun life and times.

“I know Tucker Carlson will pick, like, his most ridiculous moment and exploit it for his own political ends,” Pelosi said of the Fox News promoter. And then all his followers would go online and destroy my movie to make sure it wasn’t taken seriously as a documentary. And that’s okay. I’m a big girl, I wear my big pants, I couldn’t care less.

“I care,” and I paused here for a few seconds, “that I don’t want them breaking into my house and attacking me in the middle of the night.”

It was not an idle thought.

Pelosi, who has been targeted by a steady stream of death threats, now lives in the safety of her apartment. Her young have also received death threats. She described walking down the street with them and being assaulted by strangers, demanding answers to some ridiculous conspiratorial questions that Carlson and his trolls had raised about the attack on her father.

Pelosi said, “There’s this very toxic, negative energy going around my family, and we live with it.”

The release of “Pelosi in the House” could have been a moment of triumph, pairing Alexandra Pelosi’s artistic eye with unparalleled lifetime access to one of the most powerful and important women in US history. The documentary—with its shocking January 6 imagery, its sausage-making intimate look at the legislative process, and its charming mother-daughter banter—is truly revealing.

But Pelosi isn’t looking for rave reviews, or sending TV ratings through the roof.

“All I care about is that I physically survive the release of this movie,” she said.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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