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Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Film Festival

Posted by Ed on March 26, 2006

So, that was it then. The last ten days or so have been filled by the 30th Cleveland International Film Festival. It was an amazing few days and my hat goes off to the organisers for their excellent choice of films as well as the day-to-day running of the festival. I saw about half a dozen of the very many films on offer, and they were mostly very good.

Of particular note was Portrait of a Lady Faraway, from Iran. A young woman rolls the dice, and dials the numbers that come up to ask for help. The night-long journey that follows takes a man back through his difficult past in a (sometimes confusing) mix of memory, dreams, fantasy and reality. The story is compelling, though, and the performances and cinematography are excellent.

My favourite film of the festival though was Tapas, from Spain, about the intertwined lives of a group of people surrounding a Tapas bar. It was moving, intriguing, funny and unsentimental. Highly recommended.


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Control Room

Posted by Ed on July 20, 2004

Last night I saw Control Room, a behind the scenes look at the Al-Jazeera television network. The film’s director was born and raised in Egypt, but moved to the US in 1990 to attend Harvard University. The film focuses on differences in reporting between Al Jazeera and, mostly, US networks, of events still fresh in our minds such as US troops entering Baghdad, Jessica Lynch, the felling of the statue and shows us to what extent our ‘news’ is manipulated. It exposes the hypocrisy of Rumsfeld in his cries that Al Jazeera is just a mouthpiece for Bin Laden, and shows us that the people of Al Jazeera are just ordinary people trying to do their jobs as best they can.

Many of the characters portayed in the film are vehemently against the war, and deeply angry, but few are anti-American. One of the most revealing moments for me was when one of the film’s central characters, Hassan Ibrahim, is asked what he thinks will check the US overexertion of its might. He replies that he has absolute faith in the US constitution and the US people.

I’ve also seen Farhenheit 9/11, and Michael Moore has his place, certainly, as a counter-weight to the stream of right-wing views we’re subjected to, but Control Room is a far superior film to Fahrenheit 9/11. It looks at length at one aspect of the war, where Fahrenheit glosses over too many. It also avoids the sensationalist and confrontational style of Moore, and leaves the viewer to form his or her own opinion. It is an intelligent and moving film, and deserves to be widely seen.

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