Control Room 0+

Jehane Noujaim, USA 2004, 83 min

Qatar television station Al Jazeera has belonged, since its establishment in 1996, among the most controversial news channels in the world. American president George W. Bush has several times labeled it as the mouthpiece for Osama bin Laden, and several Arab countries have banned it after criticisms were made against their regimes. Despite this, or maybe because of it, Al Jazeera has become the most popular source for news in the Arab world. The documentary film Control Room, awarded the Fipresci prize from the film festival in Sydney, gives a unique behind-the-scenes perspective into the media during the war in Iraq. We are guided by the former BBC reporter currently with Al Jazeera, Hassan Ibrahim. Differing from American news stations, which concentrated on the victorious movement of their own military units to Bagdad, Al Jazeera concentrated its reporting on the impact of the military operation on the Iraqi civilians. This is exactly what the Bush government did not want to make public. By juxtaposing the intriguing ideas of several news reporters, Iraqis themselves, and official announcements from members of the American press corps, the film reveals in depth the differing approaches utilized during the daily formation of media images depicting the military conflict. At the same time it contemplates the question of media ethics and examines on one hand the methods of war propaganda in the 21st century and on the other the difficulties associated with the efforts to provide the most objective information. Director Jehane Noujaim, who lives alternately in Egypt and the USA, in contrast to Michael Moore and his film Fahrenheit 9/11, withholds her own commentary and lets the compiled information and footage speak for itself.

 

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