Danny (in shades) at the White House showing of WMD with Colon and Dubya!
`WMD weapons of mass deception` poster.
Mono cafe/theatre from the outside.
Mono inside - having a meal before the film starts.
Dr Kissinger attempts to halt the proceedings! He vil not be lectured by anyvun!
Camcorder Guerrillas relaxing after the showing.
Charlotte, Paul and an unidentified guerrilla!
Monday February 7th 2005 saw the British Première of Danny Schechter’s new film `WMD weapons of mass deception` at 8.00pm in the Mono Café/Theatre, King’s Court, Glasgow. The showing was in association with the Glasgow based Camcorder Guerrillas who are a collective of film-makers and activists who try to give a voice to those who are silenced or under-represented by the mainstream media. This film, which is currently showing at a number of locations in the USA, is a critique of the abysmal failure of the US media in the run up to war. Danny is someone I have corresponded with for a number of years after reading his excellent book, `The more you watch the less you know. `
As an activist and independent journalist I introduced the film, which opened in New York City, Buffalo and Portland, Oregon this week. Having previously met with director Danny Schechter I gave a brief outline of Danny’s career then reminded the audience of the massive disinformation campaign in the lead up to the conflict with all the preposterous reasons given for the war.
The title of the film comes from the `Weapons of Mass Destruction`, which were the rationale for the war. The reasons given for the combat were an insult to the intelligence. We were going to attack Iraq because it had WMD, which is ludicrous, as you wouldn’t attack a country with WMD. Regarding the WMD - why didn’t Saddam use them? The following absurd explanations were offered:
1/ He was warned. (i.e. he responded reasonably to a verbal caution)
2/ The weather conditions weren’t right. (What? Rain stopped play?)
3/ Donald Rumsfeld said that Saddam destroyed his own weapons before the war. (Only Rummy could come up with something like that!)
The UNMOVIC weapons inspectors couldn’t have had more time because of the size of the country. How big is Iraq? Firstly Iraq was two-thirds the size of France, then it became three quarters the size of France, then it was the size of France, then it was twice the size of France. It got bigger every week, rather like the length of Tony Blair’s nose. Actually Iraq is 79% the size of France or five and a half times the size of Scotland or a little bigger than California. On the `axis of evil` Iran is next, Iraq is now `free` – meaning Bush is `free` to attack Iran. How big is Iran by the way? Is it the size of France? Or twice the size of France, or what? In point of fact Iran is almost three times the size of France and being a mountainous country would be more difficult to invade. Hence the delay. How big is France incidentally? Is it the size of … France? There were a large number of Americans in the audience whose amusement acknowledged their lesser-travelled compatriots lack of geographical knowledge.
The audience of around one hundred listened attentively throughout, only looking away from the screen occasionally to refer to their information packs on the film.
There were a number of bursts of laughter, at the singing of the song “Operation Iraqi Liberation, tell me what does that spell, Operation Iraqi Liberation, – O-I-L.” and when Danny describes how Michael Wolff of Vanity Fair was “Told to shut the fuck up!” after he queried the value of military briefings.
Donald Rumsfeld who is credited by Gore Vidal as being America’s greatest stand up comedian also drew some titters with his “There are also unknown unknowns, there are things we do not know we don’t know.”
Some of the younger members of the gathering were impressed by the footage of the Vietnam War, which was shot before they were born.
At the end of the film Danny says “I believe in freedom of the press but not just freedom for those who own the press. What can we do to hold the media more accountable? Think about it. Now I’ve had my say, it’s your turn.”
There was prolonged applause at the finish along with some boos for George Bush as he declares over the closing titles that major combat operations are over in Iraq.
I asked some of the audience for their comments after the showing and most feedback was positive. Bethany from Syracuse, New York State, who is doing an M. Phil at Glasgow University said: “The film was really great, I really like its depiction of the news especially the clips, I was there watching it for a year, I especially liked how the film focussed in on people checking in on the BBC and the Guardian – I did that a lot.” She expressed surprise that the film is showing in Buffalo, which is not too far from where she lives in the US.
Rena from near Toronto in Canada, also a student, held that “I think one of the most important points is like highlighting the fact that depending on where you are in the world you’ve seen a different version of the war.”
Walter, a resident Glaswegian (native of Glasgow) stated, “I thought it was a very interesting film, well presented. ”
Inigo from Bilbao in the Basque country opined: “What I think of the film is that it was very interesting to hear the other side of the stories and so well made and put in an interesting time line.”
Remarkably as the film was showing that very day in Oregon I met two people from Portland or `PDX`. (PDX is the city’s airport code) They had heard of the showing through Indymedia and were impressed by both the film and my knowing that Portland is nicknamed `Puddletown`. Fran from Portland said that the only people who voted for Bush were people who “ate up what the media told them.” She wanted “her country back.” She said that the US was in danger of becoming a police state suggesting that the police often start the trouble at demonstrations. The film was “Great and very well put together.” It should be on the mainstream media meaning television. Remember this was from a mature lady and not a teenager. Her daughter Nilina who also liked the film said that her high school classes revolved around Indymedia.
Charlotte of Camcorder Guerrillas, who is from Nantes in Northwest France, ventured “I think we are so glad we could show this film tonight because that film needed to be seen and well done Danny and the people really enjoyed it, so it’s great.”
Ash, the soundman, was from Sri Lanka and though he was too busy to comment his performance on the audio was well…sound!
Muhammad from Peshawar in Northern Pakistan said, “It was brilliant and this was the first time it was covered in that depth because there are many films on the media but none of them actually go into the different aspects of how the media coverage was being shaped.”
Kirstin, a local, said, “At last someone giving a clear and concise report.”
The showing ended with some music at around 10.00pm and the consensus among the Camcorder Guerrillas who helped screen it was that it should be shown at a larger venue in Glasgow such as the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT), which can seat up to 400 people.
Danny’s old sparring partner Dr Henry Kissinger, who rendered satire obsolete by winning the Nobel Peace Prize, could have demanded (and likely got) $50,000 for his evening’s work. Being a somewhat lesser celebrity I was happy to accept £5 ($9) for my train fare. I dashed off to Glasgow Queen Street station for the 11.00pm shuttle back to Edinburgh and got the night bus home arriving about 1.00am. I felt the evening went well and look forward to future showings of the film.
For more information on the film please see www.wmdthefilm.com
For more information on Camcorder Guerrillas please see:
www.camcorderguerillas.net (note: only one `r` in the website spelling of guerrillas)
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