Films on Foreign Relations

John Perkins: Speaking Freely Vol. 1

Lecture 2007 NR. Author and former economic consultant John Perkins takes aim at himself, confessing his shameful role in helping organizations such as World Bank and the IMF drive poor nations into crippling debt while enriching U.S. corporations. His social conscience awakened, Perkins finally got fed up and quit his job. Now, he runs a successful nonprofit group that works to help indigenous peoples protect and strengthen their environments and cultures. See Full Review

Apology of an Economic Hit Man

Documentary 2008 NR. Stelios Koul records the confessions of author John Perkins in this documentary. Perkins alleges he was part of a clandestine team of economic “hit men” who worked to exploit poor countries in the 1970s on behalf of the United States government. His claims are backed by authentic propaganda films as well as dramatized reenactments of top-secret events he says took place behind a thick veil of secrecy.

Let’s Make Money

Documentary 2008 NR 1hr 47m Let’s Make Money is not about how to make money. This film traces money as it goes through the global finance system — exposing policies and practices affecting the worldwide economy. This film is about the billions, trillions of dollars that go to selfish human greed and not to basic human need. This shows the planetary marketplace from all perspectives: wealthy investors, business owners, bankers, laborers, activists, government officials, impoverished people — from all around the globe. See Full Review

Imperial Grand Strategy
Noam Chomsky

Lecture 2006 NR 120 minutes. In two lectures and a 45-minute interview, intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky — credited as the father of modern linguistics — delivers an unabashed criticism of the Bush administration’s record on terrorism, framing the president’s invasion of Iraq as part of an “imperial grand strategy.” Filmed in 2003, this collection of Chomsky’s personal views also provides an effective overview of the global political climate.

War Made Easy

Documentary 2007 NR 73 minutes. Based on Norman Solomon’s revealing book and narrated by actor Sean Penn, this documentary exposes the government’s and the media’s purported history of deceiving the American people and leading the nation into war after war. Using archival footage of past presidents and media correspondents — including the revered Walter Cronkite — the film sheds light on propaganda and draws parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq wars. See Full Review

Susan George: Speaking Freely: Vol. 2

Lecture 2007 NR 52 minutes. Join award-winning scholar Susan George for an enlightening hour as she reveals the forces at work behind the problems that plague our global community today, such as poverty and unfair international trade practices. Far from a dry lecture, her talk traces the intriguing history behind the politics of empire building with a freedom, depth and élan you won’t find on the 6 o’clock news. Beware: This presentation is dangerous to complacency!

Chalmers Johnson: Speaking Freely: Vol. 4

2007 NR 52 minutes. Writer and professor Chalmers Johnson warns of the dangers of American imperialism, a trend evidenced in the presence of U.S. military bases abroad, the passage of the Patriot Act and the executive branch’s use of military force.

Black Money

Documentary Frontline 2009 NR 60 minutes. Slush funds, front companies and secret payments are just a few of the illegal tactics multinational companies are using to fatten their wallets — and increasingly, investigators are on to them, as this special edition of “Frontline” illustrates. Investigative journalist Lowell Bergman shows how the U.S. Justice Department is working with allies around the world to crack down on the billion-dollar business that international bribery has become.

The Business of Bribes
An Investigation into International Bribery

Documentary Frontline/World 2009. Frontline and Frontline/World unfolds an online investigation of international bribery. Covering a practice estimated at $1 trillion worldwide, the ongoing investigation is also part of a Frontline documentary, Black Money, which aired April 7th, 2009.

The Shock Doctrine

Documentary 2009 NR 82 minutes. Taking shock therapy as a metaphor, this investigative documentary explores “disaster capitalism,” in which unstable nations are first jolted by catastrophic events, then subjected to free-market remedies imposed by first-world heavyweights.

The End of Poverty?

Documentary 2008 NR 104 minutes. Exploring the history of poverty in developing countries, filmmaker Philippe Diaz contends that today’s economic inequities arose as a result of colonization, military conquest and slavery, with wealthier countries seizing the resources of the poor. Narrated by Martin Sheen, this absorbing documentary includes interviews with numerous historians, economists and sociologists who shed light on the ongoing conditions that contribute to poverty. See Full Review

Dirty Wars

Documentary 2013 NR 1hr 26m. A 2014 Oscar nominee for Best Documentary Feature, this film explores America’s controversial covert operations around the globe. It documents journalist Jeremy Scahill’s extremely courageous mission to look clearly at what the “war on terror” has actually produced and what that means for the future of the world. A key point that this guy makes is that there are unofficial/undeclared ‘wars’ led by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and they are doing ‘illegal’ things. JSOC’s primary mission is to identify and eliminate terror cells worldwide. JSOC killed Bin Laden in his home. This film brings to light US special operations that the everyday person may not know about – that’s good. It tells the truth about how a majority of our government leaders believe that killing of innocent civilians are just a byproduct of war that can’t be avoided. Much of this film shows emotion of people who have fallen victim to U.S. special forces attacks. Digging bullets out of murdered pregnant women to cover up their atrocities! The section on the killing of two Americans by drone without a trial gave me new insight into how Awlaki had been transformed from support to opposition, and I was shocked at a picture of his 16 year old son assassinated two weeks later. Journalists protect this nation from abuses of power and Scahill’s work is a prime example of this. For Jeremy Scahill to have the desire to expose the secret operations that are going on all over the world so the public will be informed is a good thing. He is not criticizing the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend the nation, rather the people giving them the orders, and especially the complete lack of oversight of JSOC by the military and the government. The narrative tries to illustrate that the war on terror just breeds more terrorism. How is this different from the many “enemies of the state” killed by Stalin, and Hitler, the South American dictators, and other dictators worldwide throughout history? Even for someone who has decent familiarity with some of the questionable things going on in U.S. foreign policy, there will certainly be many new facts here. My issue is the “look at me!” way in which it is covered. It says something about a film, and the people making it, if the subject matter is given less screen time than the creators. Jeremy Scahill’s book (same title) is an engrossing but long slog through all the terrible things the U.S. government is doing, through our extremely expensive military might, to “keep us safe.” As expected, the book was much, much more thorough with a lot more information. The film should be viewed as a complement to the book, not a substitute.

Great Decisions in Foreign Policy

Documentary 2013 TV-Y 8 Episodes. David Strathairn hosts this series that examines landmark international moments with nearly 100 key players in the global community.

The World Without Us

Documentary 2008 NR 1hr 21m. This provocative documentary probes what would happen if the United States were to suddenly remove itself from the world stage, giving up its self-appointed role as a global policeman and withdrawing into its own borders.

The Listening Project

Documentary 2008 NR 1hr 13m. Named Best Documentary at the Santa Cruz Film Festival, Dominic Howes and Joel Weber’s intellectual trek through 14 countries attempts to uncover answers to the question, “What does the world think of the United States of America?” Individuals from all walks of life and myriad cultures freely express their stark opinions — both complimentary and condemning — of a nation that may not be loved by all, but leaves few lives untouched.

The American Ruling Class

Documentary 2005 NR 89 minutes. This inventive, mildly fictionalized documentary follows noted editor Lewis Lapham as he introduces two Ivy League graduates to America’s elite in an effort to examine the role of class and moneyed privilege in American democracy. With stops at the Pentagon, posh Manhattan parties and more, Lapham encounters luminaries — including James Baker III and Walter Cronkite — who each share their perspectives on America’s ruling class.

Internationally Speaking

Documentary 2005 NR 90 minutes. In this documentary, voices from around the world address America and its foreign policy, sharing their opinion of the world’s only “superpower,” its government, its foreign policy and its people. In the midst of growing international anti-Americanism, real people tell Americans what they think and why in an attempt to further understanding and compassion. Features Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky and Michael Ratner. Christine Rose directs.

Rebel Without a Pause
Noam Chomsky

Documentary 2003 NR 75 minutes. MIT professor and respected political analyst Noam Chomsky speaks his mind on sober issues including the U.S. war on terrorism, anti-American sentiment, media manipulation, the after-effects of 9/11, and social activism at high-profile gatherings. The film also features interviews with his wife, activists, fans and critics, and examines the truths and myths surrounding the anti-capitalist and longtime advocate of liberty and justice.

The Trials of Henry Kissinger

Documentary 2002 NR 1hr 19m. This riveting documentary depicts former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as a warmonger responsible for military cover-ups in Vietnam, Cambodia and East Timor, as well as the assassination of a Chilean leader in 1970. Based on a book by journalist Christopher Hitchens, the film includes interviews with historians, political analysts and such journalists as New York Times writer William Safire, a former Nixon speechwriter.See Full Review

IRAQ

Uncovered: The War on Iraq

Documentary 2004 UR 83 minutes. In this examination of the United States government’s case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, filmmaker Robert Greenwald provides compelling evidence that the Bush administration misled American citizens in the run-up to war. Crosscutting interviews with CIA analysts, weapons inspectors and military brass with press conferences and speeches from Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and former President Bush, the film paints a thought-provoking picture. See Full Review

Fahrenheit 9/11

Documentary 2004 R 122 minutes. Michael Moore’s hard-hitting documentary addresses the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, outlining the reasons the United States (and, in turn, thousands of innocent Americans) became a target for hatred and terrorism. The film not only criticizes President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks but also reinforces Moore’s theory that the Bush Administration used the tragic event to push its own political agenda.See Full Review

OTHER COUNTRIES

Give War A Chance

Documentary Frontline 1999. Frontline explores the bitter divide between military and civilian attitudes about where, when, and why America employs military force. In examining the gulf between what American diplomats want and what the military is prepared to deliver, correspondent Peter J. Boyer follows the inevitable collision from Vietnam to the Balkans between diplomat Richard Holbrooke and Admiral Leighton Smith. Their careers, and ultimate clash, represent the most vivid example of this critical foreign policy dilemma Special reports on Frontline’s web site include one examining the evolution of the doctrine on the use of military force and, a chronology of significant U.S. military interventions over the past 30 years. Also published on the site is an analysis of the new kind of diplomacy–‘nation-building’ backed by military might. Several top experts debate the pros and cons. The site also offers brief biographies of Holbrooke and Smith, parallel chronologies of their lives and careers, and, a selection of key readings on the issues examined in the Frontline broadcast.

The Final Cut

Drama1995 200 min. In this insightful look at foreign policy decisionmaking, a fictional British prime minister seeks to gain his place in history by masterminding a settlement of the very real Cyprus crisis. Unfortunately, he is also totally unscrupulous; when his self-serving plan for the island country backfires, he resorts to a military intervention that turns into a disaster. Dir. Mike Vardy. With Ian Richardson, Diane Fletcher, Nick Bramble. English. Color.

Barcelona

Comedy 1994 PG-13 102 minutes. Ted (Taylor Nichols), a conservative, idealistic Chicago yuppie working in sales at his company’s Barcelona office, is visited by his shallow, belligerent cousin Fred, a U.S. Navy officer. While bar-hopping, chasing women and philosophizing about love, they’re inadvertently caught up in the volatile political climate of post-Franco Spain, which irrevocably alters their lives. Mira Sorvino co-stars in this romantic comedy with a serious slant.

The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe

Comedy 1972 90 min. This film about spies focuses on bungling in high places and invites us to find humor in the ineptitude of those who would manage a country’s foreign policy. The Aldrich Ames case suggests that the French farce may not be all that far off the mark. Dir. Yves Robert. With Pierre Richard, Jean Rochefort, Mireille Darc. French with English subti­tles. Color.

Israel: The Covert Connection

Documentary Frontline 1989. The Iran-contra scandal revealed a glimpse of the US government’s secret relationship with Israel. This program investigates America’s strategic alliance with Israel since the 1950’s and our covert and overt ties to Israeli arms deals and intelligence operations.

Trouble in Paradise

Documentary Frontline 1988. Frontline examines the US government’s attempts to forge a military pact with the Pacific Island nation of Palau (population 15,000) a campaign that has led to economic dependence, political strife, corruption, and violence in that tiny country.

The Wall
A World Divided

Documentary 2010 NR 55 minutes. With insights from political leaders like George H.W. Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and Condoleezza Rice, explore the origins and demise of the notorious Berlin Wall, the structure’s affect on ordinary German lives and the peaceful end to the Cold War. Full of detailed information, this historical PBS documentary explains the stark differences between East and West Germany and their process of reunification.

After the Wall
A World United

Documentary 2011 NR 55 minutes. After serving as a geographic and ideological divide for 40 years, the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, bringing the reunification of Germany and an end to the Cold War. This documentary revisits the events surrounding the wall’s historic collapse. Interviews with major players such as George Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl offer insight into political maneuverings while firsthand accounts from Germans provide personal perspectives.

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