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Worth A Look: 35.09%
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Pretty Bad: 1.75%
Total Crap: 0%

6 reviews, 21 user ratings

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Control Room
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by EricDSnider

"Who's the enemy? Who can you trust? This movie is scary."
4 stars

When the war in Iraq began, President Bush referred to Al Jazeera as "the mouthpiece for Osama bin Laden." Donald Rumsfeld frequently called the Qatar-based news channel, the CNN of the Middle East, "anti-U.S. propaganda"; Iraq's information minister called it anti-Iraq propaganda. "Control Room" takes us behind the scenes at this much-maligned -- but much-watched -- satellite news network before and during the war, and the result is fascinating and revelatory.

"This word 'objectivity' is almost a mirage," says an Al Jazeera reporter, and of course she's right. Al Jazeera, the most controversial and most popular news channel in the Arab world, was about as impartial in regard to the U.S. invasion of Iraq as Fox News was (though in the opposite direction, obviously). And it is interesting -- particularly if you are one of the Americans not in favor of the war -- to see the perspective of news reporters who are not just visiting the scene, but who grew up there.

Al Jazeera is known to Americans primarily as an anti-America lie factory, because that's how Rumsfeld and others characterized it. But this film, shot largely at Al Jazeera headquarters just prior to the war and during the early weeks of it, demonstrates that perhaps some of the half-truths were coming from our side, not theirs.

Not that the film is one-sided. We meet Lt. Josh Rushing, a keen, humble military leader who acts as media liaison and who seems to honestly believe in America's mission and his role in it. We also meet Hassan Ibrahim, a BBC journalist with local ties whose loyalties lie in the truth, wherever it is. He wants America to be right about all this, but he's skeptical, like a good journalist should be.

The director is Jehane Noujaim, co-director of "," another documentary that captured the zeitgeist of its time and took us beyond the headlines into the news itself. Her skill for selecting timely topics and crafting them into worthy documentaries is impressive.

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originally posted: 08/08/05 16:56:10
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
This film is listed in our political documentary series. For more in the Political Documentary series, click here.

User Comments

10/07/05 mohanad al shaar it was a great movie about a very great channel 5 stars
6/30/05 Phil M. Aficionado See it, listen to the commentary of the 2 Al Jazeera staff member central characters. A+ 5 stars
1/31/05 Jim Riveting; might be considered "propaganda" by rigid idealogues. 5 stars
12/30/04 DM A must-see film if ever there was one 5 stars
11/08/04 james Incredible film that brilliantly shows media biasis. 5 stars
9/18/04 Graham Some amazing journalism, though not quite a satisfying film narrative 4 stars
7/19/04 M Lin Consider the complexity of information sources, exercise critical thinking. 5 stars
7/08/04 Bill Valuable insights for US citizens before 11/2 vote 5 stars
6/20/04 Russ Sims A refreshing piece of filmmaking about war as seen by the eyes of the so-called "enemy" 5 stars
6/12/04 Boombah Baby You Americans need to start realizing that unpopular truth is not propaganda. 5 stars
6/11/04 NICK HABIB Outstanding movie that prompts the mind to think rather then just absorb 5 stars
5/22/04 steve Liberal Propaganda??? 2 stars
4/26/04 stenobabe provocative, disturbing 5 stars
4/05/04 Giulia Cox Subtle, provoking. NOT a polemic; rather, an intelligent look at unfolding events. 5 stars
2/25/04 John F A should be manditory viewing in HS gov't classes. 5 stars
2/24/04 Cheron McGuffey This film is an eye opener - to understand the human cost of this war look here. 5 stars
2/22/04 Paulus A must see for everyone, especially every American! 5 stars
2/20/04 Andrea Valenti We talked about this film for hours-- A MUST SEE!! 5 stars
2/09/04 Alec Therins What is truth? What is Propaganda? What is an unbias view? 4 stars
1/31/04 John Langford Great film, worth seeing twice. 5 stars
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  DVD: 26-Oct-2004



Directed by
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