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Acclaimed documentary 'Control Room' to screen Dec. 1-4

RELEASED: Nov. 17, 2011

Control Room

EAU CLAIRE — "Control Room" (2004) — Jehane Noujaim's acclaimed documentary about Al Jazeera, the satellite news network, during the 2003 invasion of Iraq — will be presented Dec. 1-4 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. "A surprising, puzzling and in many ways brilliant work" (Salon), the film will screen at 6 and 8:30 p.m. in Davies Theatre.

"Whatever your opinions about the war, the conduct of the journalists who covered it and the role of Al Jazeera in that coverage, you are likely to emerge from 'Control Room' touched, exhilarated and a little off-balance, with your certainties scrambled and your assumptions shaken," wrote The New York Times. "The Egyptian-born, Harvard-educated Ms. Noujaim, who worked with the legendary documentarians D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus on movies like 'Only the Strong Survive' and 'Startup.com' (which she directed with Ms. Hegedus), proves that cinema verite is alive and well, and perhaps more potent and necessary than ever."

The film examines Al Jazeera's coverage of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the conflicts that arose in managed perceptions of truth between the Arab satellite news network and the American military. Prominently featured in the film is Lt. Josh Rushing, who was then the Central Command press officer who had the task of presenting the military operation to the worldwide media covering the war. Although he is close to many Al Jazeera journalists and respects their freedom, Rushing questions what he perceives as an anti-American bias in their reporting. He engages in interviews and fierce debates, particularly with Sudanese journalist Hassan Ibrahim. Raised in Saudi Arabia where he was a classmate of Osama Bin Laden, Ibrahim attended American universities and headed the BBC Arab News service before joining Al Jazeera. A passionate Arab nationalist who is vehemently against the war and the American presence in the Middle East, Ibrahim also continually praises the U.S. and its constitution.

After the Pentagon ordered him not to comment on "Control Room," Rushing ended his 14-year career in the Marines. In 2005 he went to work for Al Jazeera's new English-language international news network as a military and current affairs correspondent.

Rushing will visit UW-Eau Claire Nov. 30 to speak during The Forum lecture series. In December he plans to visit Iraq to cover the withdrawal of the U.S. military.

The International Film Society will present the 84-minute film, which is not rated.

Admission is free at the door with a Blugold Card or International Film Society membership. Community members who wish to attend campus films can purchase an annual IFS membership at the Service Center (715-836-3727) in Davies Center's east lobby. An individual membership costs $4 and a family membership is $10.

More information about the campus film series is available online and at the Activities, Involvement and Leadership office in Davies Center 133.

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JS/DW

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