Influence is a profile of the morally slippery British reputation manager, Lord Timothy Bell.

MORE:Watch an interview with filmmakers Diana Neille and Richard Poplak.

Born into a modest working class family, Bell climbed his way to the heights of global power, first spinning Margaret Thatcher into the “Iron Lady”, then working for the successors of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet; later branching out into France, Africa, Russia, the Middle East and elsewhere. In 1998, Bell co-founded the legendary PR firm Bell Pottinger, which quickly earned a reputation for representing even the most unsavory characters, regardless of the circumstances. In tracking the particulars of Bell’s extraordinary life, the film examines the politicization of modern communication over the last 40 years — the winding journey from advertising to algorithms; television to Twitter.

MORE: From Brexit to COVID-19: Spin doctors are using disinformation to influence us and change the world

Influence examines how Bell and his associates shaped and co-opted the very institutions on which our governance systems are premised, quietly entrenching one of the most sophisticated — and successful — business ventures of recent times: the weaponization of democracy.

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