Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Control Room

The LAS Faculty Film Series opened this evening with a showing of the documentary 'Control Room' (viewable in full-length video here). It's a 2004 documentary showcasing the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news network's reporting of the 2003 United States invasion of Iraq. It was made by an Egyptian-American woman Jehane Noujaim, who turns out is a childhood friend of fellow visiting architecture professor Rami el Samahy.

It's a very powerful, moving, and well-made documentary. I watched the first hour last week to get a sense of the film before creating a poster to advertise the film. The line that stood out to me the most was from the widow of an Al-Jazeera reported killed by American missiles. She implores the group of reporters at the press conference on her husband's death to 'please tell the truth'. Thing is- there can be many 'truths'.

Al-Jazeera's station is located across the street from LAS Building here at Education City. I recall hearing Darbi recount her visit to the Al-Jazeera TV network over a year ago and felt fear in my heart. Wait- wasn't that the network that showed bin Ladan? The network we Americans were told is the mouthpiece of the Taliban (a name I now know as derived from the Arabic word for 'student')? And they have a children's network?! What were you thinking?!

After learning more about the region, Islam, and Qatar in particular, I have no such mental fears or misconceptions about the network. It's the local and regional news station- the one that Mehran- the Georgetown CIRS director across the hall, speaks at occasionally. Or whose English-language station that Darlene- the English professor down the hall (who hosted 'Control Room' this evening) is researching with some students (they are evaluating if the newly launched Al-Jazeera English channel is producing as quality journalism as it professes). It's just a news network to me now. But after watching this documentary, I also find them to be an admirable one at that, showing realities the US networks failed to show.

(side note- I meant to end this post an hour ago- but in searching for a site for this entry, I quickly found myself treading through a variety of related topics, from Sudan baning Danes over the Muhammad cartoons, to the condemnations of John Esposito of Georgetown's work on Islam (I saw him speak recently, previewing his new book 'Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims really Think'-based on the largest Gallup pole ever), to a sites watching 'Dhimmis' and 'Jihads' and detailing the violence of Islam. Seeing how drastically this contrasts to the Muslims I work with daily and with my own research into the religion, I feel ill now).

1 comment:

  1. I saw that doc too! It was playing junior year or senior year and we caught it at one of the theaters. GOOD STUFF! Sadly, it took until then for me to stop being loyal to one news source at a time. Life changer, really. :) I'm glad you were able to see it too.