“I love movies,” says Robert Mrazek, “and I’ve always loved movies.” A five-term Democratic Congressman from New York during the Reagan-Bush years, Mrazek retired from politics in 1993 to write military-themed novels and nonfiction—he now has eight books to his name—but he never lost his love of cinema. And now, at age 70, he is the screenwriter and co-director of his first film, entitled, appropriately enough, The Congressman.
The film, which stars Treat Williams and closed the Sarasota Film Festival last weekend, concerns a burned-out representative from Maine named Charlie Winship, who finds himself at the center of controversy after footage is televised in which he fails to rise for the Pledge of Allegiance on the floor of the House. He retreats to a remote lobster fishing village on the island of Monhegan—where Mrazek himself lives and writes for half of each year—and there reassesses his life with the help of the down-to-earth town librarian (Elizabeth Marvel).
Making films was always Mrazek’s ambition. It just took him a little longer to get around to it than most. After leaving the Navy in 1968, he attended the London Film School, where he studied under the director Charles Frend. But after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, Mrazek says his fledgling film career felt “kind of trivial.” So he came back to the states, where he went to work for the anti-war Indiana Senator Vance Hartke before launching his own political career, first in the Suffolk County legislature and later in the House.