Wednesday, February 27, 2013

David Parkinson: Oshima's Passions

Oshima's Passions
by David Parkinson
Movie Mail



Nagisa Oshima, who died last month, is best known for In the Realm of the Senses, a powerful tale of sexual obsession that retains much of its power 40 years on. David argues it becomes even more powerful when viewed with its less well-known sequel.

Nagisa Oshima, who died on 15 January at the age of 80, made several important films, yet he will probably be best remembered for one. During the nuberu bagu or new wave of the 1960s, he produced a clutch of furiously subversive denunciations of Japanese society that drew heavily on actual events and suggested that defeat in the Second World War had done little to discredit attitudes that had governed the national psyche since feudal times.

In later years, Oshima also achieved commercial success with the prison camp drama Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (1983) and also proved himself adept at the samurai movie with Gohatto (1999). But, while his canon is admired for it trenchancy, artistic integrity and political courage, it is In the Realm of the Senses (1976) that commands the most attention. There is no question that it still has the power to compel, challenge and shock nearly four decades after its release. But this contentious picture, which has still to be shown in its entirety in Japan, acquires its greatest potency when seen in conjunction with Empire of Passion (1978), which similarly explores the ramifications of an intense amour fou, but does so with an increased control, maturity and compassion.

At the height of what might be deemed his 'angry young man' phase, Oshima produced a succession of uncompromising features for his own Sozo-sha company. As the traditional Japanese studios went into decline, Death By Hanging (1968), Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (1968), Boy (1969), The Man Who Left His Will on Film (1970) and The Ceremony (1971) matched anything being made in Europe for socio-political intrepidity and stylistic audacity.

To Read the Rest

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Films We Want to See #25: Let Fury Have the Hour (USA: Antonio D'Ambrosio, 2012)

Film Website

“Let fury have the hour/
Anger can be power/
Do you know that you can use it?”
– “The Clampdown,” The Clash

Rough, raw and unapologetically inspirational, LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR is a charged journey into the heart of the creative counter-culture in 2012. In a time of global challenges, big questions and by-the-numbers politics, this upbeat, outspoken film tracks the story of the artists, writers, thinkers and musicians who have gone underground to re-imagine the world – honing in on equality, community and engaged creativity – in exuberantly paradigm-busting ways.

Writer/director Antonino D’Ambrosio unites 50 powerful, of-the-moment voices –from street artist Shepard Fairey to rapper Chuck D to playwright Eve Ensler to musicians Tom Morello and Billy Bragg to novelist Edwidge Danticat to filmmaker John Sayles to comic Lewis Black – who share personal and powerful tales of how they transformed anger and angst into provocative art and ideas. Mix-mastered with historical footage, animation and performances, D’Ambrosio presents a visceral portrait of a generation looking to re-jigger a system that has failed to address the most pressing problems of our times . . . or human potential.

The story begins in the 1980s with the rise of Reagan and Thatcher — and a cultural shift towards fierce individualism and rampant consumerism. Coming of age in a world seemingly gone mad or at least gone shopping, some kids started searching for something more authentic. This was the start of a renegade movement D’Ambrosio calls “creative-response.” It was a hybrid, haphazard collective of skateboarders, punk rockers, rappers, street poets, feminists and graffitists whose reaction to this brave new world was not to turn away, but to turn up the volume and have their say.

Now that generation is coming to the fore, sparking a global movement focused not just on pushing the boundaries with guitars, paint, dance, storytelling, graphics and subcultural style – but on coming together around real reasons for hope.

Set to a stirring soundtrack from the film’s artists – including Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy, Billy Bragg, Gogol Bordello, MC5, DJ Spooky and Sean Hayes – LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR is a fast and furious trip into the grass roots of art and activism, 21st Century style. The film is written and directed by author and visual artist Antonino D’Ambrosio in his feature debut. The producers are D’Ambrosio and James L. Reid and the executive producers are Jonathan Gray, Brian Devine, Rob McKay, Mark Urman and Chaz Zelus. The film features original music from composer and MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer. A CAVU Pictures release.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Gabriella Coleman: Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking; Steve Vittoria: Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal

Law and Disorder Radio


Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking



In the past 2 years, we’ve discussed in many interviews and updates, the attacks on whistle-blowers and hackers. The emerging movement of programmers, hackers, open source software, online communities has challenged and exposed corporate and government control and surveillance, making them targets of prosecution. As many may know, our own Michael Ratner has represented whistle-blower Julian Assange, computer activist Jeremy Hammond, and has been a legal adviser to many others including the late Aaron Swartz. Today we talk with author Gabriella Coleman about her recently published book Encoding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking. It’s a good place to start for those learning about the political significance of free software, intellectual property and the morality of computer hacking.

Guest – Gabriella Coleman, Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy in the Art History and Communication Studies Department at McGill University. Trained as an anthropologist, she researches, writes, and teaches on hackers and digital activism.

Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal

The new documentary, “Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal,” is premiering across the country. The film includes interviews from Cornel West, Alice Walker, Ruby Dee, Dick Gregory, Amy Goodman, Michael Parenti, writers Tariq Ali, and Michelle Alexander. This film beautifully captures the importance of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s life as an American journalist, and radical. He published seven books in prison including the best selling “Live From Death Row.”

In Chris Hedges’ review he points out what Cornel West says in the film: “The state is very clever in terms of keeping track, especially [of] the courageous and visionary ones, the ones that are long-distance runners. You can keep track of them, absorb ’em, dilute ’em, or outright kill ’em—you don’t have to worry about opposition to ’em.”
Guest – Steve Vittoria, the writer, director, producer and editor of Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal. The film premiered in theaters in New York City earlier this month.

To Listen to the Episode

Imogene Sara Smith: The Music of Words - Storytelling in Two Powell & Pressburger Films

The Music of Words: Storytelling in Two Powell & Pressburger Films
by Imogene Sara Smith
Bright Lights Film Journal



"In my films, images are everything," Michael Powell declares in his autobiography; "words are used like music to distill emotion." Powell was justly proud of tour-de-force sequences that rely exclusively on visuals, scoring, and editing, like the Red Shoes ballet or the climactic attempt by Sister Ruth to murder Sister Clodagh in Black Narcissus. These forays into what Powell called the "composed film" culminated in a feature-length cinematic opera, Tales of Hoffman (a film that, I must confess, I find airless.) With all respect, I would argue Powell's claim is too one-sided, and puzzling in some ways as well. What, for instance, does he mean when he says that the trial in heaven in A Matter of Life and Death — which involves extended speeches, battling wits, and even battling radios — is "essentially a silent film"?

For cinephiles, the silent era (when Powell got his start) can be a kind of lost Eden, a paradise of "pure cinema" from which the talkies have fallen. The conquest by sound, and the deadening limitations it initially placed on cameras, inspired many to reassert the primacy of images. Yet, given Powell's visual bent, it is striking how many scenes in earlier films by The Archers (as he and Emeric Pressburger named their filmmaking partnership) allow words to stand almost alone: Anton Walbrook's four-minute, single-take speech in the refugee office in Colonel Blimp; the anti- and pro-Nazi speeches by Walbrook and Eric Portman in The 49th Parallel; Portman's history lecture in A Canterbury Tale, Nancy Price's description of the Highland gathering at Oban in I Know Where I'm Going! While Powell and Pressburger were masters of the classic show-don't-tell method, they also daringly broke the rule by telling, not showing. Both techniques ultimately serve the same purpose. Despite the aesthetic of excess often attributed to the Archers' films, they gain power by withholding certain elements, requiring the audience to supply what's not there.

Powell and Pressburger both contributed to the scripts of their films, but Emeric Pressburger did the bulk of the writing. He is perennially overlooked and undervalued by fans of The Archers, partly because he was more retiring than Powell (spending his late years quietly in a cottage while his erstwhile partner hooked up with Scorsese and Coppola and produced his monumental autobiography), but also because the qualities he brought to their films were harder to define. Pressburger was a genius at structuring stories, a writer whose words have an extraordinary, multidimensional life, and who also knew when to use no words at all. David Low, creator of the Colonel Blimp character that inspired Pressburger's favorite Archers film, praised the screenwriter's "phenomenal power of story-telling," quipping, "He left Scheherezade standing." (Macdonald, 209) Scheherezade preserved her life by leaving her stories tantalizingly incomplete. Part of Pressburger's genius was to build into his screenplays chasms that the mind must leap, and blanks that the imagination must fill. These leaps of the mind create much of the joy and surprise you feel watching The Archers' movies: the thrill lies not in the arrow or in the target, but in the flight through space.

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Colin Stokes: How Movies Teach Manhood

Colin Stokes: How movies teach manhood
TED Talks

When Colin Stokes’ 3-year-old son caught a glimpse of Star Wars, he was instantly obsessed. But what messages did he absorb from the sci-fi classic? Stokes asks for more movies that send positive messages to boys: that cooperation is heroic, and respecting women is as manly as defeating the villain.

To Watch the Talk

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Democracy Now Headlines: Palestinian Filmmaker Behind "5 Broken Cameras" Detained at LAX Ahead of Oscars

Palestinian Filmmaker Behind "5 Broken Cameras" Detained at LAX Ahead of Oscars
Democracy Now



A Palestinian filmmaker and his family were detained at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday after arriving to attend this weekend’s Academy Awards. The filmmaker, Emad Burnat, is nominated in the Best Documentary category for "5 Broken Cameras," which documents the growth of a resistance movement to the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in. In a series of Twitter messages, the filmmaker Michael Moore said immigration officers told Burnat he would not be allowed to enter the country even after he showed them his Oscar invite. Burnat and his family were eventually released after Moore phoned Academy attorneys. Moore quoted Burnat as saying: "It’s nothing I’m not already used to. When [you] live under occupation, with no rights, this is a daily occurrence."

Link to Today's Headlines

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Films We Want to See #24: Occupy Love (Canada: Velcrow Ripper, 2012)

Matte Hjort: Film ... has an extraordinary capacity to expand our reality

Film matters, among other things, because it has an extraordinary capacity to expand our reality, to deepen our moral sensibility, and to shape our self-understandings, sometimes by moving us closer to cultures, problems, and realities that are distant from those we know well. That said, I think it is far from being the case that all films matter. The task, I think, for film scholars in the future will be to help to ensure that films that genuinely do matter continue to get made, and that they receive the attention they deserve.

Matte Hjort, "Film ... has an extraordinary capacity to expand our reality." Why Does Film Matter (Intellect Books, 2008)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Little Atoms Interviews of Journalist/Filmmaker Adam Curtis

"Adam Curtis is a producer, writer and director of television documentaries such as Pandora's Box, The Mayfair Set, The Century of the Self, The Power of Nightmares and The Trap. Curtis' programs, though always about serious issues, maintain a sense of tongue-in-cheek humor and are characteristic in their extensive use of archive footage. In his film making, Curtis strives to find meaningful connections between historical situations and often focuses on the impact different ideologies have had on modern society. Adam's latest series, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace..."

Link to the Two Interviews at Little Atoms

More resources:

Pt 1 of the Little Atoms Interview explores his earlier documentaries, including his influential The Power of Nightmares



The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear

Is the threat of radical Islamism as a massive sinister organised force of destruction, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, a myth perpetrated by politicians in many countries—and particularly American Neo-Conservatives—in an attempt to ‘unite and inspire’ people following the failure of earlier, more utopian ideologies?

To Watch the 3 Part Series

Part 1 — Baby It’s Cold Outside

The first part of the series explains the origin of Islamism and Neo-Conservatism and draws the parallels between the two of their “optimistic visions to change the world”. It shows Egyptian civil servant Sayyid Qutb, depicted as the founder of modern Islamist thought, visiting the US to learn about the education system, but becoming disgusted with what he saw as a corruption of morals and virtues in western society through consumerism. When he returns to Egypt, he is disturbed by westernisation and becomes convinced that in order to save society it must be completely restructured along the lines of Islamic law while still using western technology. He also becomes convinced that this can only be accomplished through the use of an elite “vanguard” to lead a revolution against the established order. Qutb becomes a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and, after being tortured in one of Nasser’s jails, comes to believe that western-influenced leaders can justly be killed for the sake of removing their corruption. Qutb is executed in 1966, but he influences the future mentor of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to start his own secret Islamist group. Inspired by the 1979 Iranian revolution, Zawahiri and his allies assassinate Egyptian president Anwar Al Sadat, in 1981, in hopes of starting their own revolution. The revolution does not materialise and Zawahiri comes to believe that the majority of Muslims have been corrupted not only by their western-inspired leaders, but Muslims themselves have been affected by jahilliyah and thus both may be legitimate targets of violence if they do not join him. They continued to have the belief that a vanguard was necessary to rise up and overthrow the corrupt regime and replace with a pure Islamist state. At the same time in the United States, a group of disillusioned liberals, including Irving Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz, look to the political thinking of Leo Strauss after the perceived failure of President Johnson’s “Great Society”. They come to the conclusion that the emphasis on individual liberty was the undoing of the plan. They envisioned restructuring America by uniting the American people against a common evil, and set about creating a mythical enemy. These factions, the Neo-Conservatives, came to power under the Reagan administration, with their allies Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and work to unite the United States in fear of the Soviet Union. The Neo-Conservatives allege the Soviet Union is not following the terms of disarmament between the two countries, and, with the investigation of “Team B”, they accumulate a case to prove this with dubious evidence and methods…

Part 2 — The Phantom Victory

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on 25 December 1979 gives a common cause to an extraordinary alliance of radical Islamists in Afghanistan and around the world and to the neo-conservatives in the US, as a key battleground of the Cold War. As the United States provides funding and arms–including even Stinger missiles capable of shooting down Soviet helicopters–to Islamic Mujahideen fighters who would fire them, a young wealthy Saudi called Osama Bin Laden is among the many foreigners drawn to Afghanistan. When the Soviets eventually pull out and when the Eastern Bloc begins to collapse in the late 1980s, both groups falsely believe they are the primary architects of the “Evil Empire’s” defeat. Back in America, the Neo-Conservatives’ aspirations to continue to use the United States military power for further destruction of evils are thrown off track by the ascent of George H. W. Bush to the presidency, followed by the 1992 election of Bill Clinton leaving them out of power. The Neo-Conservatives, with their conservative Christian allies, attempt to ‘demonise’ Clinton throughout his presidency with various real and fabricated stories of corruption and immorality, but to their disappointment, the American people do not turn against Clinton. The Islamist attempts at revolution end in massive bloodshed, leaving the Islamists without popular support. Zawahiri and bin Laden flee to the sufficiently safe Afghanistan and declare a new strategy; to fight Western-inspired moral decay they must deal a blow to its source — the United States.

Part 3 — The Shadows In The Cave

This final episode addresses the actual rise of al-Qaeda, in particular by examining the United States’ role in its creation: After their failed revolutions, bin Laden and Zawahiri had little or no popular support, let alone a serious complex organisation of terrorists, and were dependent upon independent operatives to carry out their new call for jihad. In order to prosecute bin Laden for the 1998 US embassy bombings, US prosecutors had to prove he was the head of a criminal organisation responsible for the bombings. They find a former associate of bin Laden, Jamal al-Fadl, and pay him to testify that bin Laden was the head of a massive terrorist organisation called “al-Qaeda”. With the September 11th attacks, Neo-Conservatives in the new Republican government of George W. Bush use this created concept of an organisation to justify another crusade against a new evil enemy, leading to the launch of the War on Terrorism. But after the American invasion of Afghanistan fails to uproot the alleged terrorist network, the Neo-Conservatives focus inwards, searching unsuccessfully for terrorist sleeper cells in America. They then extend the war on “terror” to a war against general perceived evils with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The ideas and tactics also spread to the United Kingdom where Tony Blair uses the threat of terrorism to give him a new moral authority. The repercussions of the Neo-Conservative strategy are also explored with an investigation of indefinitely-detained terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, many allegedly taken on the word of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance without actual investigation on the part of the United States military, and other forms of “pre-emption” against non-existent and unlikely threats made simply on the grounds that the parties involved could later become a threat…


Pt 2 of the Little Atoms Interview above is about his documentary series: All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace



All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace is a series about how humans have been colonised by the machines they have built — “Although we don’t realise it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers.”

To Watch the 3 Part Series

Part 1 — Love and Power

Part one explores the dream that rose up in the 1990s that computers could create a new kind of stable world. They would bring about a new kind global capitalism free of all risk and without the boom and bust of the past. They would also abolish political power and create a new kind of democracy through the internet where millions of individuals would be connected as nodes in cybernetic systems – without hierarchy. The film tells the story of two perfect worlds. One is the small group of disciples around the novelist Ayn Rand in the 1950s. They saw themselves as a prototype for a future society where everyone could follow their own selfish desires. The other is the global utopia that digital entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley set out to create in the 1990s. Many of them were also disciples of Ayn Rand. They believed that the new computer networks would allow the creation of a society where everyone could follow their own desires, yet there would not be anarchy. They were joined by Alan Greenspan who had also been a disciple of Ayn Rand. He became convinced that the computers were creating a new kind of stable capitalism. But the dream of stability in both worlds would be torn apart by the two dynamic human forces – love and power.

Part 2 — The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts

Part two shows how our modern scientific idea of nature, the self-regulating ecosystem, is actually a machine fantasy. It has little to do with the real complexity of nature. It is based on cybernetic ideas that were projected on to nature in the 1950s by ambitious scientists. A static machine theory of order that sees humans, and everything else on the planet, as components–cogs–in a system. But in an age disillusioned with politics, the self-regulating ecosystem has again become the model for utopian ideas of human “self-organising networks”, with dreams of new ways of organising societies without leaders and in global visions of connectivity like the Gaia theory. This powerful idea emerged out of the hippie communes in America in the 1960s, and from counter-culture computer scientists who believed that global webs of computers could liberate the world. But, at the very moment this was happening, the science of ecology discovered that the theory of the self-regulating ecosystem wasn’t true. Instead they found that nature was really dynamic and constantly changing in unpredictable ways. But it was too late, the dream of the self-organising network had by now captured imaginations…

Part 3 — The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey

This episode looks at why popular culture finds this machine vision so beguiling. The film argues it is because all political dreams of changing the world for the better seem to have failed, meaning the retreat into machine-fantasies that say we have no control over our actions because they excuse our failure. At the heart of the film is Bill Hamilton, a scientist. He argued that human behaviour is really guided by codes buried deep within us–a theory later popularised by Richard Dawkins as the “selfish gene”. It said that individual human beings are really just machines whose only job is to make sure the codes are passed on for eternity. This final part begins in 2000 in the jungles of the Congo and Rwanda, where Hamilton is to help prove his dark theories. But all around him the Congo is being torn apart. The film then interweaves the two stories–the strange roots of Hamilton’s theories, and the history of the West’s tortured relationship with the Congo and technology…


Adam Curtis: Journalist and Filmmaker (Dialogic Archive)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Expert Witness Show: Richard Stratton - The Capture of Whitey Bulger

[From 2011, Bulger still hasn't been brought to trial. A few days ago Johnny Depp agreed to star in a film directed by Barry Levinson about Whitey Bulger.]

The Capture of Whitey Bulger
The Expert Witness Show

After 16 years on the lam, James “Whitey” Bulger – a notorious Irish mobster from Boston, who was number 2 on the FBI’s most-wanted list for over 14 years – has finally been captured by the FBI.

Tonight, Mike and Mark speak with noted author Richard Stratton, who has not only researched and written about Bulger, but actually met the man face-to-face when Bulger acted to save Richard from a Mafia hit contract. We’ll talk about Bulger’s history, his turning of FBI agents, the methods used to bring him in, whether or not he’s responsible for a whole string of armed robberies as the infamous “geezer bandit” in Orange County, California…and what secrets he still may have to tell about a thoroughly corrupt FBI that aided him in murdering his rivals.

To Read the rest of the show description and to listen to the interview

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

8 1/2 (Italy/France: Federico Fellini, 1963)

(Archive for my ENG 282: International Film Studies course)

8 1/2 (Italy/France: Federico Fellini, 1963)

“Even if I set out to make a film about a fillet of sole, it would be about me.”
--Federico Fellini







Criterion Collection: 8 1/2 [DVD page/resources]

Affron, Charles, ed. 8 1/2. Rutgers University, 1987.

Ebert, Roger. "8 1/2." Chicago Sun-Times (May 28, 2000)

Gilliam, Terry. "Dreams: 8 1/2." (Transcript from BBC2: November 27, 1995)

Juliano, Sam. "That Painless Truth: Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2.″ Wonders in the Dark (November 20, 2010)

Kezich, Tullio. "8 1/2: When 'He' Became 'I'." Current (December 3, 2001)

Knapp, Chris. "Growing Up Together: Love Through the Eyes of Fellini." The Paris Review (March 11, 2014)

LoBrutto, Vincent. "The Personal Film: 8 1/2." Becoming Film Literate: The Art and Craft of Motion Pictures. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005: 129-135. [BCTC Library: PN1994 L595 2005]

Malcolm, Derek. "Federico Fellini: 8 1/2." The Guardian (April 22, 1999)

Manacas, George. "Federico Fellini: Images and Archetypes." Out of Balance (no date)

Marani, Tony. "Chatting about Other Things: An Interview with Federico Fellini." Bright Lights Film Journal #26 (November 1999)

Porcari, George. "Fellini Goes To The Beach." Cineaction #75 (2008)

Sesonske, Alexander. "8 1/2: A Film with Itself as Its Subject." Current (December 3, 2001)

Shanahan, Antonio. "Great Directors: Fedeco Fellini." Senses of Cinema (July 19, 2002)

"Sight & Sound Poll 2012: ." Current (October 5, 2012)

Smalley, G. "8 1/2." 366 Weird Movies (August 1, 2012)

Stone, Alan. "8 1/2: Fellini's Moment of Truth." Boston Review (Summer 1995)

Wuss, Peter. "Dreamlike Images in Fellini’s 8 1/2 and Tarkovsky’s The Mirror: A Cognitive Approach." The Journal of Moving Images (Fall 2003)





"Everyone lives in his own fantasy world, but most people don't understand that. No one perceives the real world. Each person simply call his private, personal fantasies the Truth. The difference is that I know I live in a fantasy world. I prefer it that way and resent anything that disturbs my vision." (Fellini in I, Fellini, ed. by Charlotte Chandler, 1995 source link)


Monday, February 4, 2013

Nagisa Oshima: "The concept of 'obscenity' ..."

“The concept of ‘obscenity’ is tested when one dares to look at something that he has an unbearable desire to see but has forbidden himself to look at. When one feels that everything that one had wanted to see has been revealed, ‘obscenity’ disappears, the taboo disappears as well, and there is a certain liberation.”

--Nagisa Oshima, quoted in Oshima in Words and Images

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mumia Abu-Jamal: "The United States Is Fast Becoming One of the Biggest Open-Air Prisons on Earth"; Noelle Hanrahan & Stephen Vittoria: "Long Distance Revolutionary" - Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Journey from Black Panthers to Prison Journalist

Mumia Abu-Jamal: "The United States Is Fast Becoming One of the Biggest Open-Air Prisons on Earth"
Democracy Now



In a rare live interview, Mumia Abu-Jamal calls into Democracy Now! as the new film, "Long Distance Revolutionary," about his life premieres in New York City this weekend. After 29 years on death row, he is now being held in general population at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution – Mahanoy. "How free are we today, those who claim to be non-prisoners? Your computers are being read by others in government. Your letters, your phone calls are being intercepted," says Mumia Abu-Jamal. "We live now in a national security state, where the United States is fast becoming one of the biggest open-air prisons on earth. We can speak about freedom, and the United States has a long and distinguished history of talking about freedom, but have we exampled freedom? And I think the answer should be very clear: We have not." In 1982, Mumia was sentenced to die for killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. He has always maintained his innocence and is perhaps America’s most famous political prisoner. In 2011, an appeals court upheld his conviction, but also vacated his death sentence. It found jurors were given confusing instructions.

Guest:

Mumia Abu-Jamal, former death row prisoner. For decades, Abu-Jamal has argued racism by the trial judge and prosecutors led to his conviction for the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Last year, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set aside his death sentence after finding jurors were given confusing instructions that encouraged them to choose the death penalty rather than a life sentence.

To Watch the Interview

"Long Distance Revolutionary": Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Journey from Black Panthers to Prison Journalist

The new documentary, "Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal," premieres today in New York City. We play an excerpt of the film and speak to writer, producer and director Steve Vittoria, as well as Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio, who has interviewed Abu-Jamal many times over the years. The film features many supporters of Mumia, including actress Ruby Dee, writer Tariq Ali, and author Michelle Alexander.

Guests:

Stephen Vittoria, longtime documentary filmmaker. Most recently, he is the writer, director, producer and editor of Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal. The film premiers in theaters in New York City Feb. 1-3. We recently featured his 2005 documentary, One Bright Shining Moment, about Senator George McGovern.

Noelle Hanrahan, director of Prison Radio and a producer of Long Distance Revolutionary.

To Watch the Conversation

Friday, February 1, 2013

Nick Turse: Kill Anything That Moves - New Book Exposes Hidden Crimes of the War Kerry, Hagel Fought in Vietnam

"Kill Anything That Moves": New Book Exposes Hidden Crimes of the War Kerry, Hagel Fought in Vietnam
Democracy Now



Two of the leading figures nominated to head President Obama’s second-term foreign policy establishment have their political roots in the Vietnam War. If confirmed, Chuck Hagel will become the first Vietnam War veteran to head the Pentagon, while John Kerry will helm the State Department after becoming one of the most prominent veterans to oppose the Vietnam War upon his return from duty. Although Vietnam is far behind them, Kerry and Hagel will now have to contend with the longest-running war in U.S. history: Afghanistan. We’re joined by Nick Turse, managing editor of TomDispatch.com and author of the new book, "Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam." The title is taken from an order given to the U.S. forces who slaughtered more than 500 Vietnamese civilians in the notorious My Lai massacre of 1968. Drawing on interviews in Vietnam and a trove of previously unknown U.S. government documents — including internal military investigations of alleged war crimes in Vietnam — Turse argues that U.S. atrocities in Vietnam were not just isolated incidents, but "the inevitable outcome of deliberate policies, dictated at the highest levels of the military."

Guest:

Nick Turse, author, journalist, and managing editor of TomDispatch.com. His new book is Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. Other books include The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan and The Complex.

To Watch the Episode