Films on Propaganda

See Also:  FILMS THAT ARE EXAMPLES OF PROPAGANDA

Manufacturing Consent
Noam Chomsky and the Media

Documentary 1992 NR 167 minutes. Funny and provocative, this 1992 documentary explores the political life and ideas of Noam Chomsky, a world-renowned linguist, intellectual and political activist. Chomsky illustrates how the media tacitly manipulates public opinion to further the agendas of the powerful. A compelling examination of the suppression of news about the U.S.-supported Indonesian invasion and subjugation of East Timor brings home the point.See Full Review

The Century of the Self

Documentary series 2002.   Adam Curtis’ acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty.  To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? “Century of the Self” tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?  The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund’s devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund’s great grandson, Matthew Freud.  Sigmund Freud’s work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society’s belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man’s ultimate goal.

Episode One: Happiness Machines,  Season 1 Episode 1,  58 min.

The story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays invented the public relations profession in the 1920s and was the first person to take Freud’s ideas to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn’t need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires.  Bernays was one of the main architects of the modern techniques of mass-consumer persuasion, using every trick in the book, from celebrity endorsement and outrageous PR stunts, to eroticizing the motorcar. His most notorious coup was breaking the taboo on women smoking by persuading them that cigarettes were a symbol of independence and freedom. But Bernays was convinced that this was more than just a way of selling consumer goods. It was a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying the inner irrational desires that his uncle had identified, people could be made happy and thus docile.  Since propaganda was helpful in wartime, he believed similar mass persuasion could also be used in peacetime for different purposes.  But the Germans in WWI had given the term “propaganda” a bad name, so Bernays came up with an new term for propaganda: “public relations”.  It was the start of the all-consuming self which has come to dominate today’s world.

The Billionaires’ Tea Party

Documentary 2010 NR 54 m. Filmmaker Taki Oldham imbeds himself in the Tea Party groups Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks, revealing how corporations and the Koch Brothers engineered these fake grassroots called “Astroturf” organizations designed to look like organic grassroots movements.

Out of Balance

Documentary 2007 NR 65 minutes. Documentarian Tom Jackson turns his lens on some inconvenient truths about energy titan Exxon Mobil and its effect on climate change. Spotlighting the company’s efforts to fund skewed media campaigns and support global-warming skeptics, Jackson builds his case in interviews with leading writers and scientists in the field of climatology. The film also explains the science behind global warming, as well as offering up some solutions to the crisis. See Full Review

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

The Tillman Story

Documentary 2010 R 95 minutes. Pat Tillman’s family comes forward to tell the real story about what happened on April 22, 2004, in Afghanistan when the pro football player-turned-U.S. soldier was killed by friendly fire and not the Taliban, as first reported. Amir Bar-Lev’s documentary pieces together the Tillmans’ search for the truth, how they exposed a military cover-up that led to top-ranking officers and called to the carpet the likes of Donald Rumsfeld.See Full Review

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

The War Behind Closed Doors

Documentary Frontline 2003. Frontline examines the hidden story of what is really driving the Bush administration to war with Iraq. The investigation asks whether the publicly reported reasons–fear of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction or a desire to insure and protect America’s access to oil–are only masking the real reason for the war. Through interviews with well-placed sources in and outside of the administration, Frontline unravels a story known only to the Washington insiders.

Truth, War, and Consequences

Documentary Frontline 2003. Frontline traces the roots of the Iraqi war back to the days immediately following September 11, when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered the creation of a special intelligence operation to quietly begin looking for evidence that would justify the war. The intelligence reports soon became a part of a continuing struggle between civilians in the Pentagon on one side and the CIA, State Department, and uniformed military on the other – a struggle that would lead to inadequate planning for the aftermath of the war, continuing violence, and mounting political problems for the president.

The Oil Factor

Documentary 2005 NR 93 minutes. Despite official statements that U.S. wars in the Middle East and Central Asia are being waged in the name of terror, it’s hard to ignore that three-quarters of the world’s oil supply comes from these regions. Narrated by Edward Asner, this thought-provoking documentary explores the realities of the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and sheds light on the United States’ true motives. Featured experts include Noam Chomsky and author Ahmed Rashid. Even though it briefly talks about oil and its future, its primary focus is the war in Iraq/ Afghanistan. Its title is elusive because it focuses almost entirely on the causes/effects of war in those countries. It does not talk about oil enough and gives no strong history of oil in these countries as well as America. This doc. should be retitled to something along the lines of “the unspoken history of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.” This the is most important MUST SEE documentary ever! Everyone should see this. Very factual. Please tell all your friends to see this. See Full Review

Bush’s War

Documentary 2008 NR 2 episodes. This definitive documentary, produced to mark the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, analyzes in detail controversial topics surrounding the war, including Sept. 11, al-Qaeda, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, weapons of mass destruction and Fallujah. 9/11 and Al Qaeda, Afghanistan and Iraq, WMD and the Insurgency, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, and the Surge. For six years Frontline has been revealing those stories in meticulous detail, and the political dramas played out at the highest levels — George W. Bush and Tony Blair, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, Osama Bin Laden. Now, on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, the full saga will unfold in a special four-hour broadcast over two consecutive nights on PBS, titled Bush’s War. Drawing on one of the richest archives in broadcast journalism (Frontline’s 40+ films), veteran producer Michael Kirk (Cheney’s Law; Endgame; The Lost Year in Iraq; The Dark Side; The Torture Question; Rumsfeld’s War; The Man Who Knew; The War Behind Closed Doors; Gunning for Saddam, Target America) also delivers new reporting and fresh interviews. Bush’s War will be the definitive documentary analysis of one of the most challenging periods in the nation’s history. “Parts of this history have been told before — the invasion of Afghanistan, torture, flawed intelligence and the invasion of Iraq, failures in the American occupation, and the saber-rattling over Iran,” Kirk says, “But no one has laid out the entire narrative to reveal in one epic story, the scope and detail of how this war began and how it has been fought, both on the ground and deep inside the government.”

WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception

Documentary 2004 NR 90 minutes. Independent investigative reporter and filmmaker Danny Schechter’s documentary focuses on how the media shaped people’s views of the Iraq War through their intense coverage from the war’s inception through February 2004. Schechter’s film examines provocative theories such as the Pentagon’s involvement in media messages, how new methods such as satellites and embedded journalists affected media coverage, and the competition between media outlets. See Full Review

Why We Fight

Documentary 2005 PG-13 98 minutes. Filmed during the Iraq War, Eugene Jarecki’s Sundance Grand Jury Award-winning documentary dissects America’s military machine with a keen eye to answering a necessary question: Why do we engage in war? Through personal stories of soldiers, government officials, scholars, journalists and innocent victims, the film examines the political and economic interests and ideological factors, past and present, behind American militarism. This was the best political documentry (and I’ve seen just about all of them) I’ve ever seen hands down The film is enlightening and tells a great story, filled with facts coming straight from the source (ex-CIA & Pentagon people, executives at US bomb factories, etc), without any sort of conspiracy-theory-esque or political slant.

South of the Border

Documentary 2009 NR 78 minutes. Eager to investigate how the U.S. media has depicted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, director Oliver Stone journeys south to interview the man himself and speaks with several other South American presidents in the process. This movie, although accused of being propaganda, is propaganda from a point of view that is rarely seen by Americans, and it will make you think about your own country — not just its role in the hemisphere, but in its domestic politics. The definition of Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc. This film isn’t that. It’s the opinion of the leaders interviewed, and their view of the United States as they see it. There are well documented facts about the corruption of the U.S. toward South America, the C.I.A. death squads murdering leaders of countries in South America (read “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” for a first hand account), and the control the IMF has/had over south american countries. I found “South of the Border” refreshing in its attempts to let us hear what the leaders of these countries think, which is something we never hear from main stream U.S. media. So they don’t think like the American Government. So what? Why is that propaganda? What I learned from this film is that leaders in South America are standing up to the American Government and American Corporations, and doing things their own way, and for the most part, it’s working.

News War

Documentary Frontline 2007 NR 2 discs. The PBS public affairs program turns its famously critical eye on its own world: modern American journalism. Tracing the evolution of the U.S. press from the Nixon era to the Iraq War, “Frontline” interviews key figures in print and electronic media. With interviewees including columnist William Safire, conservative commentator Pat Buchanan and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the program examines the myriad factors that shape the news. In News War, Frontline examines the political, cultural, legal, and economic forces challenging the news media today and how the press has reacted in turn. Through interviews with key figures in print, broadcast and electronic media over the past four decades — and with unequaled, behind-the-scenes access to some of today’s most important news organizations, Frontline traces the recent history of American journalism, from the Nixon administration’s attacks on the media to the post-Watergate popularity of the press, to the new challenges presented by the war on terror and other global forces now changing — and challenging — the role of the press in our society. The fourth hour of News War looks at media around the globe to reveal the international forces that influence journalism and politics in the United States. The lead story focuses on the new Arab media and its role in both mitigating and exacerbating the clash between the West and Islam. With a focus on Al Jazeera and how it has changed the face of a parochial and tightly controlled Arab media, this hour explores Al Jazeera’s growing influence around the world — from Muslim communities in Europe to the pending launch of a new English-language service that will be broadcast in the United States.

Independent Intervention
Breaking Silence

Documentary 2006 NR 51m. This penetrating documentary stresses the need for an independent media, free from political bias and corporate ideologies, by examining how various media outlets have crafted the information we’ve been given about the war in Iraq since 2003. Footage from independent sources is compared with that from mainstream media, which often focuses on technology rather than people. Interviews with experts Noam Chomsky and Amy Goodman are included.

The Panama Deception

Documentary 1992 NR 91 minutes. Filmmakers Barbara Trent and David Kasper explain the untold truths behind the United States’ 1989 invasion of Panama in this hard-hitting documentary that illuminates the complex relationship between Gen. Manuel Noriega and the CIA and U.S. government. Juxtaposing interviews with experts and eyewitnesses with historical media reports, the film shows how the press helped win the American public’s approval despite widespread condemnation abroad. See Full Review

See Also:

FILMS THAT ARE EXAMPLES OF PROPAGANDA

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