Jon Huntsman once hoped to be spending next Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C., taking the oath of office of president of the United States.
After his short-lived presidential campaign, that dream died. As a consolation prize, perhaps, the former Utah governor may be spending late January in Park City — as a documentary about Huntsman could earn a slot at the Sundance Film Festival.
The documentary, “A Forty-Year Engagement,” focuses on Huntsman’s tenure as the U.S. ambassador to China — and how, during his brief presidential run, he tried and failed to make the relationship with China a central campaign issue.
“The campaign never got off the ground, but China never became a campaign issue in the way that he wanted it to be,” the film’s producer, Geralyn White Dreyfous, told the website BuzzFeed. “It was only there as a kind of hostile example of how Republicans could be tougher on trade.”
Dreyfous, famous as executive producer of the Oscar-winning 2004 documentary “Born Into Brothels,” is a Huntsman friend and a Utah resident. (In fact, she’s the co-founder of what is now the Utah Film Center.) Her film crew followed Huntsman for two-and-a-half years, from China to New Hampshire.
Dreyfous told Buzzfeed that Huntsman was torn about leaving the China post and running for president, but that “it became very clear to Jon that the Republican party was becoming more and more disconnected from the realities of the world stage.”
Dreyfous said she hopes the movie will debut at Sundance next January. Dreyfous has been there before, not only with “Born Into Brothels” but with such docs as “Connected,” “Miss Representation” and “Sergio.”