Saturday, November 10, 2007


First up, Wally asked for a highlight. Brian de Palma's new film is Redacted (and that title came sadly true) and you can see a trailer for it by clicking here.

Here is a summay of the film:

A fictional story inspired by true events, REDACTED is a unique cinematic experience that will force viewers to radically reconsider the filters through which we see and accept events in our world, the power of the mediated image and how presentation and composition influence our ideas and beliefs. A profound meditation on the way information is packaged, distributed and received in an era with infinite channels of communication, REDACTED utilizes a variety of created source material--video diaries, produced documentary, surveillance footage, online testimonials, news pieces--to comment on the extreme disconnect between the surface of an image and the reality of ideas and the truth, especially in times of strife.
Centered around a small group of American soldiers stationed at a checkpoint in Iraq, REDACTED alternates points of view, balancing the experiences of these young men under duress and members of the media with those of the local Iraqi people, illuminating how each have been deeply affected by the current conflict and their encounters with each other. The charged apotheosis of Brian De Palma's filmmaking career, REDACTED caps off a body of work which has explored the politics of image-making and reception more fully than any living filmmaker.

Redacted opens when? It's having a release that honestly reminds me of the Oscar award winning documenty Hearts & Minds. In fact the studio's treatment of the film (redacting actual news images) reminds me of the release of Hearts & Minds. It will open in New York next Friday.

Wally got about an e-mail about it that went to his spam folder and was checking the junk mail folder before deleting last night. It's an amazing film which is not a documentary but is inspired by the gang-rape and murder of fourteen-year-old Abeer, the murder of her five-year-old sister and the murder of her parents by US soldiers. Though Steven D. Green has yet to stand trial for his alleged actions, others have not only confessed to their involvement, they have fingered him as the ringleader. Abeer Qassim Hamza was made uncomfortable not just by the way Green looked at her but by an incident where he fondled her face. She reported that and the staring to her parents who made arrangements for her to stay with another family but the War Crimes took place the night before she was due to move. Redacted is a powerful film with the usual energy and fluid visuals that are a hallmark of de Palma's film.

For those not in the know, the film was using actual photos at the end and photos themselves are now "redacted." Mark Cuban put money in the film and that's all. He's not a creative type anymore than he's a liberal (though some like pretend libertarian and liberal are the same thing). He thought that gave him the right to order the images 'redacted' (he argues that was on legal advise). It doesn't give him the right to ___. De Palma's not a house painter and Cuban's messing with art -- something he is not qualified or suited to evaluate. Cuban's also taken to speaking of the pain the photos might cause the families of those Iraqis who had suffered. What a load of ___. He's hiding behind that nonsense (families whose loved ones have died from violent crimes do not, as a rule, sue any film maker, author or reporter who attempts to get the word out on what happened to them). The excuse is pure Bully Boy and further infantizes grown adults claiming that reality cannot be shown because it might be upsetting. It is precisely because it is upsetting that reality needs to be shown. We can't and shouldn't attempt to reality-proof the world. Even with the interference of non-artists and cowards into the artistic process, Redacted remains the most powerful film of the year. I've seen it and will be surprised if it and/or de Palma aren't up for Oscars. The only other sure thing nomination wise this year is Tommy Lee Jones' nomination for Best Actor In the Valley of Elah -- a film that is general release. (Disclosure, I know both men I've just praised. That's not why they were praised. See the films and you'll know they earned it.)

Redacted can also decribe the media's treatment of the non-press designated 'front runners' and among the Democratic candidates that describes Mike Gravel more than any other and that will be a topic tomorrow on RadioNation with Laura Flanders:

This week on RadioNation: Mike Gravel vs. General Electric
Presidential candidate MIKE GRAVEL talks about taxes, MSNBC and Ron Paul. ELLEN CHESLER, KATHERINE NEWMAN and GORDON FISHER, make their cases for the "big three." BOB MOSER checks in on political shifts in the South; and Laura talks with NAOMI KLEIN about the California fires and Guatemala's shock resistance.
KLEIN on Latin America
Don't forgetRadioNation is heard on Air America Radio Sundays at 1 pm EST and on XM satellite and non-commercial stations nationwide. It can also be heard via
podcast. To bring RadioNation to a station near you, write to
Out this week: THE CONTENDERS (Seven Stories). FLANDERS, RIDGEWAY, GOLDSTEIN AND DAN SAVAGE on CLINTON, OBAMA et al.. BUY it or ORDER IT today. For more information, go to

Martha noted that and you can sign up for weekly heads up by going to Flanders' site.

At the end of last month, McClatchy Newspapers was awarded (click here for the speech given by Sahar Issa accepting for herself and the other five female correspondents Shatha al Awsy, Zaineb Obeid, Huda Ahmed, Ban Adil Sarhan and Alaa Majeed) the International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award. On that topic, Billie notes Dominique Soguel's "Iraqi Reporters Run Risks to Cover Women's Angle" (WeNews):

Iraqi female journalists have one major advantage over their male and foreign counterparts when it comes to covering women's stories: access.
As women, they can enter homes and break the silence on taboo subjects such as rape and domestic violence.
As journalists, they can publicize private pains of women in the hope of influencing policymakers.
"Covering women is really hard and dangerous at the same time," says Huda Ahmed, one of six Iraqi women from the McClatchy Company's Baghdad news bureau to receive the International Women's Media Foundation's Courage in Journalism Award on Oct. 23. "We call to make an appointment and suddenly a male relative tells them not to talk to us."
Through their courageous reporting, the award recipients have not only covered the war, they have also uncovered the marginalization of women in parliamentary decision-making, addressed women's strategies to survive sectarian violence and followed the story beyond the suicide bomb.

[. . .]
Five of the McClatchy journalists honored with the Courage in Journalism Award--Ahmed, Sarhan, Shatha al Awsy, Zaineb Obeid and Alaa Majeed--have had to leave Iraq. Only one award recipient continues to work in Baghdad. Like most of her colleagues, she began working as a translator and then adopted a pseudonym to byline her articles.
Unbeknownst to family and friends back in Baghdad, she traveled to the award ceremonies at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. For her safety, the Washington-based International Women's Media Foundation asked the press not to publish her picture.
"As a woman, as long as I am not identified as a reporter," she told Women's eNews, "I am safer on the streets of Baghdad than is any man."
Secretly, she breaks all the glass ceilings. Not only is she the breadwinner in her family, she successfully juggles motherhood with journalism in the most dangerous war zone today.

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