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American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein

2009
Distributed by Typecast Releasing, 3131 Western Ave., Suite 514, Seattle, WA 09121; 206-322-0882
Produced by PARAKA Productions and Ridgen Film Productions in association with Mohawk Films
Directed by David Ridgen and Nicolas Rossier
DVD, color, 89 min.
Jr. High - Adult
Human Rights, Activism, Political Science, Sociology


Reviewed by Malcolm L. Rigsby, Department of Sociology, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, AR

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 9/16/2010

If you are looking for a relaxing, flippant and non-challenging documentary that simply portrays the life and times of a noteworthy American political and social thinker do not view this film. If you are looking for a challenging debate about the basic rational ideas of humanity, social justice, freedom and ideals of nationhood this film is one of the top choices. The directors uncover and present a fascinatingly controversial figure. They present the man, Norman Finkelstein, in a way that often provokes the viewer. At other times they allow the viewer an intimacy that allows them to step in the arena, so to speak, with him. At times you may wince at his remarks and direct confrontation of a deeply challenging topic close to his heart. Other times you may chuckle with him as he critiques himself as well as others and sometimes very humanly examines his own weakness in timing his remarks, his message to the world, and his earnest desire to make a better world through meeting obstacles head on.

We follow briefly his formative years but concentrate on his academic and intellectual interests as they evolve around what he calls the Jewish extortion of the Holocaust. Finkelstein, a person of Jewish heritage, born to American Jewish survivors of the Holocaust claims he does not trivialize the historical events and effects of the Holocaust, but rather that in the present the Holocaust has become a hostage of many in the Israeli state. He calls this use of the Holocaust as an “industry” to promote “a straight out extortion” used by Israel to blackmail others to side with their concerns and non-recognition of Palestine and Palestinian social, political, and human rights needs.

In return he has been identified and ostracized by some as a political radical while to others he is seen as a beacon of hope. He angers some, pleases some, inspires some and fascinates others. This film is well balanced though slightly skewed to promoting a better understanding of Norman Finkelstein. It appears well documented and is sure to invigorate debate and discussion of his life, tactics, and values that are critical to and important for all of humanity.

For a preview the trailer is available on the Typecast Releasing website.

Awards: Numerous awards are associated with this film since its Winner Audience Choice Award at the Chicago Underground Film Festival in September 2009. Since that date it has garnered awards from America to Israel as well as Europe and Asia. For a full list visit the Typecast web page