Friday, April 30, 2010

What's Up, Docs?

There's nothing Toronto loves more than a good film festival. Here are a few of the films on offer at Hot Docs, a fete of documentary films. (Hot Docs is sort of like a downscale TIFF; a TIFF sans limos, glitz and celebrities). They (and many others) have been written up by one or another of NOW Magazine's lefty scribbers in NOW's special Hot Docs pull out section.

The Oath deals with

The diverging fates of two al Qaida members – and brothers-in-law – who were close to Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s play out in elegant contrast in Laura Poitras’s gripping documentary.

Nasser al-Bahri (aka Abu Jandal) and Salim Hamdan were bin Laden’s bodyguard and driver respectively, and both men fell into U.S. custody after the 9/11 attacks. Hamdan was subjected to “enhanced interrogation” and dumped into Guantánamo Bay. Al-Bahri, who seems far more connected, was released and now drives a taxi in Yemen and preaches jihad to impressionable young men.
Their radically different fortunes mirror America’s post-9/11 struggle to define its national character – and underscore The Oath with a powerful moral anguish.
Sounds like the "enhanced interrogation" did the one dude--and us infidels--a world of good. Whereas the other unenhanced one--the one who supposedly has his shit together--is as zany as ever.

In The Name Of The Family, writes NOW's clueless freedom-derider Susan G. Cole, uses "the death of Mississauga teen Aqsa Parvez as a starting point" and  "probes the murders of young girls in Muslim families." In other words, it's a doc about the phenomenon of "honour killing," not that Susan G., a High Priestess of P.C., would ever employ such a loaded phrase. No, she's fit to be tied because the filmmaker
wastes the key moment in the film, when teenaged boys and girls at Parvez’s high school comment that the killings have nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with male power.
I understand Saywell’s passion for giving voice to young women coping with the controlling men in their Muslim families. But the result is a film that disturbs as much by its demonization of Islam as by the murders it describes.
Yeah, it's a bummer when the facts--and a doc about the facts--don't conform to your uninformed foregone conclusions.

Finally--and this one is not to be missed (but only if you bring along a sackful of over-ripe tomatoes to hurl in disgust at the screen)--there's American Radical: The Trials Of Norman Finkelstein. Here's Cole's capsule summary (with my bolds):
Haunted by the Holocaust – his parents were survivors – Norman Finkelstein loathes how that tragedy has been used to defend Zionist excess.

American Radical tracks the professor’s various speaking engagements, showing what he thinks and how he expresses himself – stridently, aggressively, reductively. This is not a bridge builder.

Unless he’s in Palestine. A fascinating scene in Ramallah shows him connecting to the locals and urging peace in ways he never does in America.

Eventually, his allegation that pro-Israel lawyer Alan Dershowitz is a plagiarist does in Finkelstein’s academic career. He just can’t let go of the claim and underestimates Dershowitz’s influence.

Tapping interviews with Finkelstein’s family, supporters and opponents, American Radical creates a fascinating, complex portrait of a right-thinking man who keeps doing all the wrong things.
Why, he sounds like a regular Job--a poor schlemiel forever trying to do the "right" thing, but unfairly over-burdened by the exigencies of Dershowitz Zionists Jews life.

No comments: