Alexandra Pelosi was beaming: She had just made her Sundance Film Festival debut with the HBO documentary "Fall to Grace," about former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey; her mother, Rep. Nancy Pelosi was on hand to witness it; and Sundance’s founder and Pelosi’s hero, Robert Redford, made it a point to stop by to witness the event.
"I’m 42 years old and finally made it to Sundance. This is the best day of my life - it’s downhill from here," she cracked.
That’s highly unlikely. With the film set to make its debut on HBO on March 28 and the growing buzz around it, Pelosi is bound to have more celebratory moments for "Fall to Grace." It’s her eighth HBO film: She’s also done documentaries on homeless children, the tea party movement and Ted Haggard, the pastor who became ensnared in a drug and sex scandal.
"I’m drawn to broken men - Why is that?" Pelosi pondered at a brunch Friday morning to celebrate the documentary. "I don’t know. I’m really drawn to the recovering politician. . there’s a lot of that in the film."
McGreevey was the governor of New Jersey and considered a rising Democratic star when he resigned in 2004 after it was revealed that McGreevey, then married with a child, was cheating on his wife with another man.
The scandal became a tabloid sensation, but after that, McGreevey came out as a gay man, trained in the seminary and started working with incarcerated women. The film follows McGreevey as he helps the women in prison and in their attempts to make the transition after their release.
"He’s taken his own shame and turned it into something good, which most of the other fallen men don’t do," she said, adding that a return to politics was unlikely for him: "He’s too sincere."
Earning the Subject’s Trust
McGreevey, who was also at the brunch with partner Mark O’Donnell, said he was initially reluctant to do a documentary about his life.
"I think my personal story had been told time and time again, but when Alexandra said she was willing to follow the women and get to know the women . it became something different," he said.
Pelosi spent so much time with McGreevey that her young children make cameo appearances in the film, and spent major holidays with McGreevey as he visited women in prison.
Nancy Pelosi recalled calling her daughter on Christmas to find out what the filmmaker’s kids got for Christmas.
"She said, ’Mom I’m not going to tell you where I am right now,’ and I said, ’Well, I think you are because you brought it up,’" the House Democratic minority leader recalled.
She was in prison with McGreevey: the younger Pelosi recalls her mother didn’t take the news well, chastising her for not being home with her children, now 5 and 6.
"I thought, ’There’s something more important than me and my kids,’ and that’s something I learned from Jim McGreevey," Pelosi said.
Pelosi said after that conversation with her mother, "I wasn’t sure how supportive my mom was of the project - until today."
The debut of the film marked a career pinnacle for Pelosi, a former NBC News journalist; having Redford appear at the film’s premiere was an added bonus.
"Robert Redford was famous and could have retired after ’Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’" she said, referencing one of his most famous films.
"But he kept working and his best work was in front of him, and if you ask me, Robert Redford’s best work is Sundance because he makes everybody else’s dream come true," she continued.
"He’s using his fame for good, just like Jim McGreevey is using his shame for good."