Bad Press
Bad Press
Bad Press
Bad Press

Bad Press

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    • Directed by:  Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, Joe Peeler.
    • Released: 2024 (educational)
    • Year of Production: 2023
Running Time: 98 min
Language: English, 
Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions
Subjects: Race Power and Privilege, Indigenous Studies


When the Muscogee Nation suddenly begins censoring their free press, a rogue reporter fights to expose her government’s corruption in a historic battle that will have ramifications for all of Indian Country.

Imagine you lived in a world where your only reliable news source became government propaganda overnight. That’s exactly what happened to the citizens of the Muscogee Nation, the fourth largest Native American tribe, in 2018. Out of 574 federally-recognized tribes, the Muscogee Nation was one of only five to establish a free and independent press – until the tribe’s legislative branch abruptly repealed the landmark Free Press Act in advance of an election. The tribe’s hard-hitting news outlet, Mvskoke Media, would now be subject to direct editorial oversight by the tribal government.

One defiant journalist refuses to accept this flagrant act of oppression. As brave as she is blunt, veracious muckraker Angel Ellis charges headfirst into battle against the corrupt faction of the Muscogee National Council. Angel and her allies rally for press freedoms by inciting a voter-supported constitutional amendment, just in time for the start of a new election cycle.

An enthralling, edge-of-your-seat nail biter that unfurls with the energy and suspense of a political thriller, BAD PRESS is a timely and unprecedented story about the battle for freedom of the press and against state-censored media.

Official Selection at 2023 Sundance, Winner of the Best Feature Documentary 2023 Riverrun Film Festival, Winner of the Best Feature Documentary 2023 Santa Fe International Film Festival and the 2023 SCAD Film Festival

“This first directorial feature for Landsberry-Baker (a Muscogee Creek tribeswoman and the executive director of the Native American Journalists Association) and veteran editor Peeler has the slightly giddy ‘are you seeing what I’m seeing?’ tenor of a classic muckraking narrative like All the President’s Men. That faint retro flavor is nicely amplified by Denisse Ojeda’s vintage-sounding electronic score. There’s an attractively spacious feel to Tyler Graim’s widescreen photography, mirroring local landscapes, while Jean Rheem’s editing balances characterful detail and humor with considerable narrative propulsion… Bad Press tells a tale we’d love never to see played out again— yet watching it is undeniably entertaining.” -  VARIETYAn Engrossing Documentary on a Fight For Tribal Government Transparency
“Landberry-Baker and Peeler’s documentary is thus the perfect illustration of what happens when you dismantle the Fourth and Fifth Estates and wind up putting democracy in peril, and it’s something everyone in America should be worried about right now.” - THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTERAn Eye-Opening Exposé on Democracy and Journalistic Freedom
“…a movie can grab hold of you simply through the power of its subject. That’s true of Bad Press, an absorbing, eye-opening look at the fight for a free and open press in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation directed by Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Joe Peeler.” - THE NEW YORK TIMESCritic’s Notebook – also a New York Times Critic’s Pick!
Bad Press is wonderful, tightknit political and journalistic non-fiction…It does what small-scale documentaries do best, and have been doing exceptionally since Harlan County, USA: Finding the global in the specific, and finding the personal in the ideological.”“The filmmaking, confident and immersive, imbues the film with gravity. Context is efficient; characters are cultivated. Its procedural construction is thoroughly convincing, involving and educational. We care about the issue, but we care more about it because the issue comes with faces.” - PASTE MAGAZINEIntimate, Engrossing Bad Press Breaks Ground for an Indigenous Free Press 
 “The documentary Bad Press brings viewers on a suspense-filled adventure, following a handful of dedicated Indigenous journalists over a nearly four-year sparring match with tribal council over their demand that freedom of the press be written into tribal law. The film dives into government corruption and highlights how an independent press informs and educates tribal citizens, thus strengthening tribal sovereignty as a whole.” -  UNDERSCORE NEWS‘Bad Press’ Chronicles Muscogee Journalism Victory

About the filmmaker 





Rebecca Landsberry-Baker is an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the executive director of the Native American Journalists Association. She is a recipient of the 2018 NCAIED “Native American 40 Under 40” award and was selected to the Harvard Shorenstein News Leaders Fall 2022 cohort. Landsberry-Baker made her directorial debut with the documentary feature film, BAD PRESS, which was supported by the Sundance Institute, Ford Foundation JustFilms, NBC, and the Gotham. BAD PRESS premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and received the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Freedom of Expression.



Joe Peeler is a Sundance award-winning director and editor whose work has appeared on NETFLIX, HBO, FX, ESPN, Hulu and CBS. Joe began his career apprenticing under legendary director Peter Bogdanovich, and from there edited Lucy Walker’s Academy Awards Shortlist documentary short The Lion’s Mouth Opens; multiple episodes of the Netflix original series Flint Town; and Margaret Brown’s SXSW premiere documentary short The Black Belt. Most recently, Joe co-directed Bad Press, which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Freedom of Expression.


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