Control Room - An Inside Look At Al Jazeera
Back from a great festival showing in both NZ and Australia is the incredibly insightful documentary, Control Room.
Winner of the prestigious FIPRESCI Award for Best Documentary at the recent Sydney Film Festival and now
Sweeping audiences and critics off their feet with its general Australian release!
The film is certain of the same respect here when it opens exclusive to
Rialto Auckland next Thursday (September 16th). The rest of the Country will follow.
"Essential, exciting and revealing viewing" Paul Le Petit, Sunday Telegraph
"Illuminating....8/10"Rob Lowing, Sun Herald
"Sharp, shrewd and unsententious..."Evan Williams, The Australian
"Riveting...an important film" Paul Byrnes, Sydney Morning Herald
A Film by Jehane
Official Selection Sundance Film Festival 2004
benefits Al-Jazeera to play to Arab nationalism because
that’s their audience, just like Fox plays to American
patriotism, for the exact same reason… because that’s their
audience… the big thing for my generation is for these two
perspectives – my perspective, the Western perspective, and
the Arab perspective – to understand each other better…
because, truly, the two worlds are colliding at a rapid
-Lt. Josh Rushing, Central Command Press Officer, U.S. Army
CONTROL ROOM, by Jehane Noujaim (Startup.com), an award-winning Arab-American filmmaker who has lived within and embraced both worlds, provides an opportunity to re-examine what is perhaps the most pressing question of international relations today: "is America radicalizing or stabilizing the Arab world?" Without miring itself in shadowy conspiracy theories, CONTROL ROOM provides a balanced view of Al-Jazeera’s presentation of the second Iraq war to their worldwide Arab audience, and in so doing calls into question many of the prevailing images and positions offered up by the U.S. news media. CONTROL ROOM’s view inside Al-Jazeera—a network branded "Osama Bin-Laden’s mouthpiece" and subject of intense criticism from U.S. administration officials for showing images of Iraqi casualties and American POWs that American viewers never saw—suggests that its views on news reportage might actually be more in tune with democratic ideals than those of its Western counterparts.
CONTROL ROOM neatly bridges the gap between timeless and timely; timeless because it locates itself in the midst of the ongoing cultural clash between Western and Arab worlds, timely because it does so through the prism of satellite television’s impact on how viewers receive information worldwide — from news providers, driven by the patriotism of their audiences, to Army information officers, driven by military objectives. CONTROL ROOM is a seminal documentary that explores how Truth is gathered, presented, and ultimately created by those who deliver it.
Established in November 1996 with an eye towards providing the Arab-speaking world a freer, more independent source for news, Al-Jazeera is broadcast by satellite around the world and watched by over 40 million Arabic viewers. Based in Doha, Qatar, the network has been censored in many repressive Arab states for its democratic perspectives. With more than 30 bureaus and dozens of correspondents covering the four corners of the world Al-Jazeera has established itself as an important voice in international news reportage, while maintaining its commitment to covering “all viewpoints with integrity and balance.” Its sister website Al-Jazeera.net debuted in January 2001 and is one of the 50 most visited sites worldwide.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Jehane Noujaim began as a photographer and filmmaker in Cairo, Egypt, where she grew up. She moved to Boston in 1990, where she attended Harvard University and graduated magna cum laude in Visual Arts and Philosophy in 1996. Earlier that year, Noujaim was awarded the Gardiner fellowship under which she directed Mokattam, an Arabic film about an Egyptian garbage-collecting village. She then joined the MTV News and Documentary division as a producer for the documentary series, Unfiltered. Noujaim left her producing job at MTV to produce and direct Startup.com in association with Pennebaker Hedgedus Films. The feature length, highly acclaimed documentary has won numerous distinguished awards including the DGA and IDA Awards for best documentary. She has since worked in both the Middle East and the US as a director and cinematographer on various documentaries including Born Rich (Jamie Johnson), Only the Strong Survive (D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus), and Down from the Mountain (D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus & Nick Doob).
ABDULLAH SCHLEIFER, EXECUTIVE
Professor Schleifer is the publisher and senior editor of Transnational Broadcasting Studies (TBS) an electronic journal at www.tbsjournal.com, the director of the Adham Center for Television Journalism and distinguished lecturer in mass communication at the American University in Cairo. Prior to joining the AUC faculty, Schleifer served as NBC News Cairo Bureau Chief and Middle East producer/reporter based in Beirut, and has covered the Middle East for American and Arab media for over 20 years. In 1997-8, on sabbatical leave from AUC for the academic year, Schleifer signed on for a one-year assignment to reorganize along professional lines the ART Broadcast and Production Center in Avezzano as its managing director, reporting directly to Sheikh Saleh Kamel.
Rosadel Varela has over ten years of experience in both film and television. Early in her career she worked at MTV Networks in the News/Documentary and Production divisions as a freelance producer. Some of her credits include, Unfiltered, The Video Music Awards, The State, House of Style, and many programs for the True Life documentary series. In 1998, she became a member of the highly selective Directors Guild of America Assistant Director Training Program. There, she worked alongside directors such as Woody Allen, Penny Marshall, John Singleton, and Nicole Holofcener. On the television side, she worked on some of the most successful television series in history including Law & Order and Sex & the City. Varela graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and holds a Producers Certificate from the Business of Entertainment Program at NYU.
HANI SALAMA, PRODUCER
Hani Salama is currently completing his Master’s Degree in Journalism at the American Univesity in Cairo. He was awarded the prestigious Kamal Adham Fellowship for Television Journalism and has worked as a freelance producer for NBC, CNBC, MBC, and a cameraman for BBC, CBC (Canadian television) and MTV.
Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt’s interest in film began during his undergraduate years at Brown University where he wrote two feature-length screenplays and received honors in Creative Writing. In 2002, he spent several months in the Democratic Republic of Congo shooting medical training videos and directing his first short film, Value Added. He has also worked as a sound operator for an independent feature-length film entitled Teddy and as a production assistant for various films and television commercials including Raising Helen (Disney) and Mitsubishi. As a graduate student pursuing his Masters of Fine Arts in Film at Columbia University, Perlmutt has written, shot, produced, and edited numerous short films.
Originally from Brazil, Julia Bacha came to New York in 1998 to study Middle Eastern history and politics at Columbia University. Alongside her academic studies, she pursued her interest in documentary photography by portraying life in the Brazilian Amazon, the Indian Hymalaias and the mountains of Cuba and Jamaica. In 2003 she graduated magna cum laude and was awarded the Phi Betta Kappa prize.
ABOUT THE PARTICIPANTS
AL-JAZEERA SENIOR PRODUCER
After touring the Arab world as a journalist, Sameer settled as a senior producer for Al-Jazeera. His insights on the war go beyond politics to philosophical musings on history and human nature. Although critical of Bush’s policies, Sameer has an appreciation for American values and a strong personal desire to move to the US, send his children to college there and “exchange the Arab nightmare for the American dream.” He argues of Al-Jazeera that “we [Al-Jazeera] don’t want to alienate the Americans…we are what they want for the region—an Arab channel with western mentality.”
LIEUTENANT JOSH RUSHING,
CENTRAL COMMAND PRESS OFFICER
Lt. Rushing has the task of presenting America’s military operation to the worldwide media. With an open mind and a deep concern for the Arab perception of America, he engages in interviews and fierce debates. Although he is close to many Al-Jazeera journalists and respects their freedom, he questions what he perceives as an anti-US bias in their reporting. Before going to the Middle East, Lt. Rushing worked in Hollywood negotiating script content with big budget studios on behalf of the US military. After his service as press officer for CentCom ends, Rushing plans to move back to Hollywood to pursue an acting career.
HASSAN IBRAHIM, AL-JAZEERA JOURNALIST
A Sudanese journalist, Hassan was raised in Saudi Arabia where he was a classmate of Osama Bin Laden, attended American universities, and headed the BBC Arab News service before joining Al-Jazeera. A passionate Arab nationalist, vehemently against the war and the US presence in the Middle East, Hassan also continually praises the US and its constitution.
DEEMA KHATIB, AL-JAZEERA
Through her energetic commitment to Al-Jazeera, Deema challenges those who believe the days of genuine loyalty to a television network are gone. This young Syrian producer claims that her witty sense of humor allows her to face the horrors of war.
TOM MINTIER, CNN
Tom Mintier is a seasoned CNN correspondent who began his career as a cameraman in Vietnam. As one of the most experienced journalists at CentCom, Tom uses his power to ensure that all journalists are given equal access to information. Several times, his perception of unfair favoring of American reporters during press conferences lead him to request that his chance to ask a question be transferred to a foreign journalist.
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC
David Shuster is a young NBC correspondent, proud to be a member of what he sees as a Western free press as opposed to the state-controlled media of the Arab world.
Jehane Noujaim, Hani Salama
Producer - Middle East
Jehane Noujaim, Rosadel Varela
Executive Producer - Middle East
Julia Bacha, Lilah Bankier, Charlie Marquardt
Mona Eldaief, Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, Andrew Rossi
Consulting Editors (Middle East)
Tamer Ezzat, Karim Ek
Kinan Azmeh, Hamsy El Din, Thomas DeRenzo, Karsh Kale, Hani Salama, Nasseir Shamma,
John Smarmy, David Stone, Dinuk Wijeratne
Lt. Josh Rushing
President George W. Bush
Gen. Vincent Brooks
Lt. Frank Thorpe
Lt. Stuart Upton
Shot on location in Doha,