Distributed by First Run/Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Tewfik Hakem
Directed by Tewfik Hakem
VHS, color, 52 min.
College - Adult
Communication, Journalism, Media Studies, Middle East, Political Science, Religious Studies, Women's Studies
Reviewed by Margaret M. Reed, Riley-Hickingbotham Library, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, AR
Date Entered: 12/10/2003
Al Jazeera: Voice of Arabia provides a rare view of one of the most popular and often controversial satellite television organizations in the Middle East.
Filmed at Al Jazeera’s state-of-the-art headquarters in Doha, Qatar, the documentary is a collection of newsroom discussions, interviews, and news footage, woven together by English narration and subtitles. A central theme is that Al Jazeera makes a concerted effort to be balanced as well as mindful of the Arab perspective. It points out that Al Jazeera employs over 70 journalists from various religious and political affiliations. It also shows news executives debating whether to air the Osama Bin Laden tapes shortly after war broke in Afghanistan. Moreover, the film portrays Al Jazeera as a catalyst for free speech, women’s rights, and cultural awareness.
The documentary does, however, have a few technical problems. Interviews with National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are conducted in English and overlaid with an Arabic translation as well as English subtitles, making it difficult to sort out the dialog. Also, long stretches of subtitled conversation midway in the film could have been enhanced by narration.
All in all, Al Jazeera: Voice of Arabia is a valuable resource for a Western world eager to learn more about Middle Eastern ideas.
Al Jazeera: Voice of Arabia premiered at the 2003 Middle East Studies Association Film Festival in Anchorage, Alaska. Located at the University of Arizona, MESA is a “private nonprofit, non-political organization of scholars and other persons interested in the study of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Islamic world.”
Recommended for academic and public libraries.