Category Archives: Documentary

Al-Jazeera Presents: The Men Who Crashed the World (Part 1)

“The crash of September 2008 brought the largest bankruptcies in world history, pushing more than 30 million people into unemployment and bringing many countries to the edge of insolvency. Wall Street turned back the clock to 1929.

But how did it all go so wrong?”

This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (3.0) by Al-Jazeera English.


No Missiles, Holograms or Demolitions: “9/11: Press for Truth” Asks Legitimate Questions

New York, 11 September 2001. Photograph: Hubert Michael Boesl/EPA

“This is a scandal of tremendous proportions. It makes Watergate look small. There’s a strange lack of interest from people both on the left, and the right. Nobody seems to want to uncover leads and follow them where ever they may go, because I think it goes to a lot of very damaging places.”Paul Thompson, author of The Terror Timeline

People who question the official narrative of September 11th, 2001 are often chastised as being “Bush-bashers” or utter lunatics. I’ve suffered all of these accusations at one time or another while spending nearly six years pursuing my own line of inquiry. And while I haven’t arrived at many, if any, answers, I do know that the official line is simply not possible, and is insulting. I hasten to add that blaming Bush for orchestrating the attacks is incredibly shortsighted and naive, because it fails to take into account the vast military-industrial-intelligence complex that has built up rapidly since the days of President Eisenhower. I doubt I’ll know the full story within my lifetime. But with each year that passes, more and more comes to light. And as far as lunacy, there is certainly plenty of unfounded and downright ridiculous theories out there regarding what happened that fateful September morning. What is sadly (and dangerously) overlooked are very real and very substantiated facts that have been overlooked and never tied together.

Ray Nowosielski’s documentary 9/11: Press for Truth helps people who have always had lingering doubts about America’s greatest tragedy consider an alternate story, one that encourages the thinker to truly question why our government has lied to us and led us into bloody, tragic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and created an increasingly alarming security state that, ostensibly, was for protecting Americans from terrorists but now monitors activists involved in Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) protests and nonviolent demonstrations planned on Wall Street for September 17th. It’s not about red herrings like controlled demolitions, a missile hitting the Pentagon, or holograms. It’s about actual documented evidence from mainstream news sources that have often been overlooked or ignored altogether.

Consider just three of the many points that this film raises (via 911Truth.org):

Pakistani Connection – Congressional Connection
a. The Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, creator of the Taliban and close ally to both the CIA and “al-Qaeda,” allegedly wired $100,000 to Mohamed Atta [the alleged lead hijacker] just prior to September 11th, reportedly through the ISI asset Omar Saeed Sheikh (later arrested for the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was investigating ISI connections to “al-Qaeda.”)
b. This was ignored by the congressional 9/11 investigation, although the senator and congressman who ran the probe (Bob Graham and Porter Goss) were meeting with the ISI chief, Mahmud Ahmed, on Capitol Hill on the morning of September 11th.
c. About 25 percent of the report of the Congressional Joint Inquiry was redacted, including long passages regarding how the attack (or the network allegedly behind it) was financed. Graham later said foreign allies were involved in financing the alleged terror network, but that this would only come out in 30 years.

What did officials know? How did they know it?
a. Multiple allied foreign agencies informed the US government of a coming attack in detail, including the manner and likely targets of the attack, the name of the operation (the “Big Wedding”), and the names of certain men later identified as being among the perpetrators.
b. Various individuals came into possession of specific advance knowledge, and some of them tried to warn the US prior to September 11th.
c. Certain prominent persons received warnings not to fly on the week or on the day of September 11th.

Obstruction of FBI Investigations prior to 9/11
A group of FBI officials in New York systematically suppressed field investigations of potential terrorists that might have uncovered the alleged hijackers – as the Moussaoui case once again showed. The stories of Sibel Edmonds, Robert Wright, Coleen Rowley and Harry Samit, the “Phoenix Memo,” David Schippers, the 199i orders restricting investigations, the Bush administration”s order to back off the Bin Ladin family, the reaction to the “Bojinka” plot, and John O”Neil do not, when considered in sum, indicate mere incompetence, but high-level corruption and protection of criminal networks, including the network of the alleged 9/11 conspirators. (Nearly all of these examples were omitted from or relegated to fleeting footnotes in The 9/11 Commission Report.)

The film’s heroines are “The Jersey Girls“, who spearheaded the call for an investigation into 9/11. Had it not been for their persistence and irreverent attitude towards those in power, the 9/11 Commission would never have been formed.

From Michael Collins’ review of 9/11: Press for Truth:

Their demands for a thorough investigation, the many unanswered questions, and the resistance of the information gatekeepers form the narrative that carries the film forward. The twists and turns offer a fascinating and compelling collection of major stories (or dots) that have never been connected.

As the reputable and comprehensive website 9/11 Truth News, an editor (Jon Gold) from which I will be publishing an interview with this coming week, astutely notes:

“…this movement, at it’s most basic, is about people learning for themselves about very solid facts and developing their own curiosity and skepticism.”

And now, the Project is proud to present 9/11: Press for Truth:


Al-Jazeera Presents: The Image War

As we approach the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, the Project thought it important to examine how both sides (the U.S. and Al-Queda) have manipulated the world into supporting a terribly tragic and costly “War on Terror.”

This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (3.0) by Al-Jazeera English.


Pay Attention to Nonviolence: The Story of Budros and a Documentary Film (with TED video)

“I believe that what’s mostly missing for nonviolence to grow is not for Palestinians to start using nonviolence, but for us to start paying attention to those who already are.”

With that, documentary filmmaker Julia Bacha launches into the story of the town of Budros, and the townspeople’s nonviolent struggle against Israeli intentions to build a wall that would steal 40% of the people’s land.

The story of Budros is probably one you’ve never heard before. I hadn’t heard about it until today, when I happened across this incredible talk by Bacha:

Bacha’s speech is inspiring on two fronts.

One:

“What was even more surprising was that Budros was successful. The residents, after 10 months of peaceful resistance, convinced the Israeli government to move the root of the barrier off their lands, and to the ‘green line’, which is the internationally-recognized boundary between Israel and the Palestinian territories.”

Two: Her speech also posits that nonviolent direct action might be used more frequently in places like the Middle East if it were only paid attention to more by the media. She cites a perfect example: the Palestinian town of Walajeh, which faced a plight similar to Budros. The people of Walajeh had grown “disenchanted” with nonviolence, “since nobody was paying attention.” After activists screened Bacha’s film in Walajeh, something spectacular happened: a week later, the town held the “most disciplined, well-attended demonstration to date.” The villagers, after seeing the film, steeled their resolve to continue nonviolent struggle against the construction of the Israeli-imposed wall because they felt that “there were indeed people following what they were doing.”

The story of Budros inspired Walajeh to continue their efforts and not resort to violence. But it didn’t stop there: on the Israeli side, there is a new peace movement which, after translated from Hebrew, means Solidarity. Solidarity members have been using the story of Budros

“as one of their primary recruiting tools. They report that Israelis who have never been active before, upon seeing the film, understand the power of nonviolence, and start joining their activities.”

Nonviolence’s effectiveness isn’t as surprising as the fact that one documentary essentially helped fuel a nonviolent resistance movement against long-time occupiers. Bacha’s question is a good one:

If a small-budget documentary could begin to change the narrative in three towns, what would happen if large media conglomerates focused on these efforts instead of Hamas rockets and Israeli raids?

This of course leads to other questions, such as:

What repercussions would this have on other nonviolent movements all over the world? And should we even try to reform the present media system, or forge ahead by inspiring the creation of more political documentary filmmaking?

My hunch is with the latter. What are your thoughts?


Hey, Documentary Filmmakers! We Need YOU on September 17th–and Beyond (with video)

Saturday, September 17th will be a new page in American history, as pockets of Americans from Wall Street in Lower Manhattan to Los Angeles (and numerous points of light in between) rise up nonviolently to protest, occupy public spaces, and declare one simple demand: “One Citizen. One Dollar. One Vote.” The planned non-violent direct action in Lower Manhattan will be the first attempted occupation of Wall Street in American history.

But don’t count on this historic day being televised. That’s why your help is needed. Do you have a digital video camera and a good microphone? Sure, there will be plenty of cell phone cameras, but good video with quality sound are very important. Video is crucial for a number of reasons, in case you didn’t know:

1) Monitoring police interaction with activists makes it less likely that law enforcement officials will deviate from procedural rules and violate the civil rights of nonviolent activists.

2) Filmmakers bear witness by recording and, with the help of social media networks, amplifying the voices of activists. More on recording events below.

3) Filmmakers aren’t just observers of historical events–they’re active participants. Just as the late Howard Zinn once urged scholars to engage, to take a side, in matters of social and economic justice, so do filmmakers have a duty to stand up and fight with image and sound for a better, more just and equitable society. The cult of objectivity can do little to cure injustice.

General Tips for Recording Events:

For those of you shooting on cell phones, it’s probably not necessary for you to read this. It’s crucial, however, that you monitor police interaction with protestors, as well as any provocateurs attempting to incite violence. Remember too: you have every right to film the police, even if they tell you to stop.

With that out of the way, below are some guidelines and instructions on how to create a short film for online distribution that will keep your audience engaged. You will need editing software.

1) Make a list of shots you want to get before heading to the scene. This might include establishing shots of street signs (to give the audience an idea of where the event took place), wide shots of protesters marching down the street, as well as chants, signage, and public reactions. You’ll also want to interview people and ask them their personal reason(s) for being at the event. And lastly, an old rule in documentary filmmaking: It’s important to get as much b-roll (non-interview shots) as possible, so it’s not one interview after another. Intersperse this b-roll to put some space between interviews. If you decide to put narration in later, you’ll also be glad you shot additional footage for the narration to go over. The information from your interviews is important, as will the narration be (if you decide to use this), and making it as aesthetically palatable as possible is just as important.

2) When editing, keeping the film to under five minutes (three minutes or so is optimal length) is important. Most viewers will usually click away to other things after this. And if you’re going to include narration (good for conveying facts, such as: “Protestors are organizing in part because of Wall Street’s stranglehold on agencies such as the SEC, which has failed repeatedly to regulate powerful corporations…”) it’s usually a good idea to write the narration after you have the film close to finished.

3) Finally: once you’ve posted the video on You Tube, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, send it to online outlets such as the The David and Goliath Project, GRITtv, The Public Record, and others. They’re always hungry for well-produced, aggressive short films. The key is to get your work into circulation. And with enough of us putting material out there, the message activists are trying to convey on September 17th (and beyond) will be amplified exponentially with the help of activist filmmakers like you and I.

If you plan to commit to documenting the US Day of Rage, please email The Project or US Day of Rage (site down for maintenance until September 2nd) with the following so we can begin creating a list of contacts:

1) Your name, city and relevant contact information;

2) Whether you’ll be using a digital video camera or cell phone;

3) Whether you’d be willing/able to UStream with a laptop computer and webcam, or cell phone (laptop preferable for connectivity issues.)

In case you want a short film example using guidelines I listed above, this film documents a health care reform sit-in at Blue Cross headquarters in downtown Los Angeles in 2009:


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