I've just seen two interesting documentaries:
- Control Room follows the Al Jazeera satellite news network in the leadup to and during the US invasion of Iraq. At the same time, we also meet Marine Captain Josh Rushing, a press officer, and a couple members of the Western press. Al Jazeera has been called "the mouthpiece of Osama bin Laden" and otherwise accused of hideous bias by members of the Bush administration. The documentary shows that, indeed, they are biased, but based on what we see, no more so than Fox News. More interesting are the contradictions or surprises seen in the individuals: the senior producer at Al Jazeera who resents US arrogance, but who dreams of sending his children here to study; the Marine who recognizes his own bias and hatred of war; the cynical Al Jazeera reporter who is convinced that America (the people) will stop the aggression of America (the political leadership). It's a good reminder that, even at the heart of a polarizing event, individuals are more complex than the positions they espouse.
SAIS hosted a screening and panel discussion - including now former-Capt. Rushing - of the film in March. I don't know how long it will be available, but currently you can hear the discussion online at the SAIS homepage.
- Genghis Blues was a surprising treat. Chris had recommended it to me years ago, but I've only just now gotten to it. The film tells of Paul Pena, a blind American blues musician, who travels to Tuva to compete in a triannual throat singing symposium. I won't try to describe any more than that. I'll just say that it is a delight, offering:
- throat singing, which sounds unbelievable
- some moving moments of pain, fear, and loss, even in the midst of a triumphant/fun-loving road movie
- beautiful scenery of central Asia
- scenes and history of Tuva and its people
- Richard Feynman
- sheep sacrifice
Surely something in that list appeals to you.