Tanner ‘88

Director: Robert Altman
Screenwriters: Garry Trudeau

Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


This cable-television series aired in 1988 on HBO as a collaborative effort between Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Gary Trudeau and director Altman. It has variously been described as a "mockumentary" or a "reality-based" comedy, a political satire that examines the presidential race. The series chronicles the campaign of a fictional character. Jack Tanner, run-ning for the presidential nomination. As—Robert Altman describes it, "We find out what the political process is by joining it. We created a candidate. We're going on the campaign trail and we're sending along a couple of cameras to document the event." What is unique is that Tanner '88 incorporates real-life individuals into the story. In the first episode, for instance, Senator Bob Dole, Reverend Pat Robertson and Senator Gary Hart appear, and the line between fiction and reality begins to blur. As Trudeau says, "The idea is to take a repertoire of fictional characters and have them rub up against reality and be buffeted by real events—as I do in the comic strip."

Unfortunately those of us who don't get HBO have never seen this award-winning program. Our three-day presentation will he highlighted by a discussion with "Tanner" creators Gary Trudeau and Robert Altman, who received an Emmy for his directing.

(Archives note: 11 episodes, 30 minutes each)

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details


As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]