A review of “Control Room” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: Not Rated, but could be PG for mature themes

Run Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

 

 

Director Jehane Noujaim goes straight to the heart of the media wars in this prickly documentary on Iraq’s hyper-controversial Al Jazeera news network.

Al-Jazeera has a short and sketchy history.  The 7-year old independent station is widely regarded as Osama bin Laden’s mouthpiece, yet 40 million Arab viewers depend on it as their primary source for news.

Unvarnished interviews and gruesome news footage attempt to shed light on the resounding culture clash between Western and Arab worlds.  Bush’s administration policies are under fire throughout; from half-truths from the mouth of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to the cynical behavior of our nation’s finest Johnny-on-the-spot journalists. America’s dismissive attitude regarding the Arab perspective is infuriatingly arrogant.

Al-Jazeera’s senior producer Samir Khader is the voice of reason, expressing uneasy concerns about the shape-shifting truths filtered through the media’s multiple outlets and the perpetual struggle to maintain journalistic integrity. 

Noujaim utilizes an easy observational style to get her point across.  Discrepancies are subtly realized, lending them a quiet force and the depressing realization that all is not as it seems. Tensions build to a crescendo without fanfare or dramatics.

Truth is the real star of Control Room; its diplomatic presentation sans propaganda at the core of war journalism and peace and prosperity between nations.