Jehane Noujaim began as a photographer and filmmaker in Cairo, Egypt, where she grew up. She moved to Boston in 1990, where she attended Harvard University and graduated magna cum laude in Visual Arts and Philosophy in 1996. Earlier that year, Noujaim was awarded the Gardiner fellowship under which she directed Mokattam, an Arabic film about an Egyptian garbage collecting village. She then joined the MTV News and Documentary division as a producer for the documentary series, Unfiltered. Noujaim left her producing job at MTV to produce and direct Startup.com in association with Pennebaker Hedgedus Films. The feature length, highly acclaimed documentary has won numerous distinguished awards including the DGA and IDA Awards for best documentary. She has since worked in both the Middle East and the US as a director and cinematographer on various documentaries including Born Rich, Only the Strong Survive, and Down from the Mountain.
June 7 (Monday) 7 pm
Directed by Jehane Noujaim
US, 2004, color, 83 min.
English and Arabic with English subtitles
With over 40 million viewers, the Al Jazeera network was established in 1996 with the goal of providing an independent media voice for the Arab-speaking world. Branded as Osama Bin-Ladens mouthpiece, the network has been roundly criticized in the Western world for its Arab nationalist biases. As the U.S was on the verge of its recent invasion of Iraq and working fastidiously to control the messages that would be sent from the frontline, director Jehane Noujaim (Startup.com) set up camp in the media enclave of Doha, Qatar to dissect the imminent collision between Pentagon officials and a press which questioned their motives. In the tradition of D.A. Pennebaker (who served as producer on her previous film), Noujaim employs an observational style to document the inner workings of this controversial media outlet.