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  • Thursday, December 16, 2004


    Documentary? Sort of.

    With the current swell of documentaries flooding theaters and DVD players, it's important to remember that not all of them are factually based. This seems like a good example of what is basically propaganda, disinformation, or Public Relations in nature. From A Dubious Doc:
    In an interview in Movie Maker magazine, another of the film's producers, Martin Kunnert, said: "Getting a theatrical release for a documentary film is still rare. We lucked out in that our distributor, Magnolia Pictures, [which also put out "Control Room" and "Capturing the Friedmans"] was eager to get the film in theaters before the presidential election."

    A call to Magnolia Pictures in New York was answered by a man who, lowering his voice when asked about "Voices of Iraq," whispered, "Nobody here wanted to release this and we didn't do any of the promotion on it. [Mark] Cuban steamrolled us on this." (Cuban owns Magnolia Pictures, the Dallas Mavericks and much more.)

    Jeff Riechert, the Magnolia Pictures contact for "Voices of Iraq," said that while his company is technically distributing the film, Manning, Selvage & Lee (MS&L) is coordinating the publicity. MS&L has the public affairs contract for the U.S. Army. The firm's revamp of the Army's image with the reality TV-style "Army of One" ad campaign is credited with enabling the Army to meet its recruiting goals after a long slump. According to MS&L Managing Director Joe Gleason, he and his colleagues also deliver key targeted messages about the war in Iraq to specific constituencies.

    Was the left-leaning art house crowd one of those constituencies? Is the government hiring documentary filmmakers to propagandize the U.S. population?

    Nobody involved with the film is willing to say who initially put up the money for the film or how they ended up represented by the Army's PR firm.

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