Film about Al-Jazeera, February 15

Posted by Mitchell - February 2, 2004 (entry 144)

Chicago Media Action will be co-presenting a screening with Chicago Filmmakers of "Al-Jazeera Exclusive", a 60-minute documentary aired in the BBC2's "Correspondent" series, about the Qatar-based satellite television station in the time up to and during the 2003 War in Iraq.

A number of key moments are included: the day when Saddam's ministers tried to ban al-Jazeera, the al-Jazeera decision to screen images of American and British corpses, the 'accidental' bombing of the hotel in Baghdad where al-Jazeera's reporters were based and the reaction of al-Jazeera's staff to the death of its reporter in that blast.

Once again, a high quality and relevant film has been overlooked by Chicago "public" TV station WTTW. The film will be presented Sunday, February 15, at 7pm, at Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark instead.

What does the British press have to say about "Al-Jazeera Exclusive"?

The Guardian, Rupert Smith

Verdict: impressively unbiased "BBC2's "Al-Jazeera Exclusive" was not only an impressively unbiased piece of reporting, it was also a compassionate, sometimes hilarious insight in to the workings of TV journalism... Al-Jazeera was instantly painted as a wicked purveyor of anti-American propaganda. The journalists themselves told a different story... It was hard not to admire the equanimity of al-Jazeera's staff, particularly Mawafak, the on-air translator, who managed to relay President Bush's claim that "we are not against the Iraqi people" while worried sick about his family in Baghdad. He later learned two of them had died in air raids."

The Times, Paul Hoggart

Verdict: remarkable, important and valuable "This documentary had a deadly serious purpose; to show the British people how a war that our soldiers were fighting for our government with our money, was being seen throughout the Arab world... We may not like what they showed or how they interpreted what they showed, but for one hour this remarkable documentary gave us the chance to see a conflict, which may yet have momentous consequences for this country, exactly as millions of Arab people saw it. For that reason alone it was important and valuable."

The Daily Mail, Christopher Matthew

Verdict: as close to the true facts of the Iraq war as we are likely to get "Yesterday evening, many who suspected that the images of the Iraq war they were shown on TV night after night and the press briefings by top coalition brass revealed little of what was really going on may well have had their worst fears confirmed... The true facts of the Iraq war will probably never be known, but last night's documentary may come as close to telling them as we are ever likely to get."

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