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The Control Room

Director: Jehane Noujaim

2003| Colour| 83 min| USA


To maintain support for warfare, governments strive to keep the enemy as an abstract idea. Once the opposition is perceived as consisting of flesh and blood – sharing a common humanity, intellect, spirituality, and grief – a nation’s enthusiasm for bloodshed tends to fade. Since Vietnam, war has been transmitted by television into living rooms and what is perceived there can have a powe rful impact on public support for military engagements. Jehane Noujaim’s startlingly courageous The Control Room provides a rare window into the international perception of the Iraq War, courtesy of Al Jezeera; the Arab world’s most popular news outlet. Roundly criticised by cabinet members and pentagon officials for reporting with a pro-Iraqi bias, and strongly condemned for frequently airing civilian casualities as well as footage of American POW’s, the station showed the world everything about the Iraq War that the Bush administration did not want it to see.
In Noujaim’s film, Al Jezeera is portrayed as the home-base of dedicated journalists, whose passion for truth and open information are easily the equal of their American counterparts, and who pay a deadly price for it. The Control Room is an astonishing film that challenges our complacency and, perhaps our assumptions.

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