Related Articles: Movies, All

Control Room

Baghdad café

When the United States started bombing Iraq in March 2003, Arab-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim found herself, along with dozens of other journalists, in the US military's Central Command (Centcom) compound in Qatar. Instead of covering the military assaults occurring 700 miles away, as everyone else did, she trained her camera in the opposite direction- at the journalists reporting the news and the military spokespeople briefing the reporters.

Control Room is a fascinating look behind the scenes at some of the people who reported the news during that dramatic time. Noujaim specifically focused on the controversial Arab television station Al Jazeera. By getting unparalleled access to both Al Jazeera and Centcom, she met the owners and reporters who run the free-thinking station that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld branded "Osama bin Laden's mouthpiece." Her film reveals that Al Jazeera has a refreshingly healthy perspective on news reporting that many major news outlets in this country would be wise to emulate.

Senior Producer Samir Khader describes his news organization as the kind that Americans should want in that part of the world: an Arab channel with a western mentality. He's a real fan of the US too; he'd work for Fox News in a heartbeat. Al Jazeera journalist Hassan Ibrahim tempers his vehemence towards the US-led war with the utmost admiration for our country and our Constitution. Meanwhile, Lt. Josh Rushing, Centcom's press officer, transcends official propaganda to show he's able to understand and respect the point of view of the "other side."

From the timing of the Jessica Lynch rescue story and the unveiling of the notorious "Iraqi's Most Wanted" deck of cards to the looting of Baghdad and the death of an Al Jazeera reporter from US bombs, Control Room depicts the hazards and challenges of news reporting during wartime and the complexities that arise when striving to achieve true fairness and balance.