[ATC7823]
The movie is just great!

perryb
August 23, 2007 All Things Considered National public radio
Movies
Millionaire-Turned-Filmmaker Traces Iraq War

Charles Ferguson made his fortune as a software developer, then made an unlikely move to filmmaking.

His documentary on the Iraq war, No End In Sight, tracks the process in Washington that led to the current situation in Iraq, and it breaks some new ground: Key decision-makers talk for the first time about the war and its aftermath.
   Ferguson, a Silicon Valley millionaire, overcame some major obstacles to tell the story. He hired his own 20-man security team with four pickups mounted with machine guns and drove down to Baghdad from Kurdistan, filming in high definition.

[TRANSCRIPT]
August 23, 2007 from All Things Considered National public radio
NPR
Millionaire-Turned-Filmmaker Traces Iraq War

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: A new documentary about the war in Iraq breaks some new ground. It’s called “No End In Sight,” and in it, some key decision-makers talk about the war and its aftermath for the first time.
   As NPR’s John McChesney reports, the filmmaker is a Silicon Valley millionaire, who overcame some major obstacles to tell the story.

JOHN McCHESNEY: Charles Ferguson made his fortune in software. His company developed a program that made it possible for just about anyone to create a Web page. And soon the big guys – Microsoft – were knocking on his door and he sold the company.

Mr. CHARLES FERGUSON (Director, “No End In Sight”): For a tidy sum of Microsoft stock, which was even better than money at the time.

McCHESNEY: But Ferguson’s first love was political science, in which he had a PhD from MIT. After Silicon Valley, he went back to Washington’s Brookings Institution and decided to make his first movie when friends there told him the war was going wrong.
   Ferguson says that then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had gotten wind that the film wouldn’t be flattering and denied him any military support or access. So Ferguson used his own money to hire a security force. It was an audacious move.

Mr. FERGUSON: And we drove in a convoy of four armored pickup trucks with machine gun towards in the back. About – a convoy of about 20 armed men in those four trucks. And we drove overnight from Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan to Baghdad. That was quite a drive.

McCHESNEY: Ferguson says at times, he dressed as an Iraqi to move about in Baghdad. Almost all of the architects of the war – Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Bremer, Condoleezza Rice – declined to be interviewed for his film. And in any case, Ferguson didn’t set out to prove that the war was a mistake. He had supported the removal of Saddam Hussein, although he had his doubts.

Mr. FERGUSON: I probably underestimated the inherent difficulties of doing that, of removing Saddam by force even under the best of conditions.

McCHESNEY: But he had another reason for not taking on the right or the wrong of starting the war.

Mr. FERGUSON: I wanted the film to have as wide an appeal as possible and to be of interest and accessible to and credible to people who are for the war as well as people who are against it.

McCHESNEY: The film has a strong point of view, that the Bush administration botched the war in nearly every way possible.
   Ambassador Barbara Bodine describes being put in charge of the city of Baghdad just after the invasion.

Ambassador BARBARA BODINE (Former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen): When we were first starting the reconstruction, we would sort of joke that there were 500 ways to do it wrong and two or three ways to do it right. And what we didn’t understand is that we were going to go through all 500.

McCHESNEY: This documentary is not a Michael Moore satire. The ironies are painful, not laughable, and nearly all those interviewed were not outsiders but part of the administration’s early team.
   Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had not spoken publicly about the war until Ferguson interviewed him. Here, Armitage speaks about presidential envoy Paul Bremer’s decision to disband the Iraqi army - a decision that put half a million armed men out of work.

Mr. RICHARD ARMITAGE (Deputy Secretary of State): I think most of us were caught relatively unaware of or completely of unaware by this disbanding of the army. Secretary Paul found out about it as I did.

Mr. FERGUSON: Which was how?

Mr. ARMITAGE: Just as we found out one day, Gary announced that he disbanded the army.

Mr. FERGUSON: How about Condoleezza Rice?

Mr. ARMITAGE: Oh, she ought to speak for herself.

McCHESNEY: Colonel Paul Hughes, now with the Institute for Peace, was arranging for the Iraqi army to come in from the cold in the early days of the war. He says he had 137,000 troops lined up. His effort was abruptly cut off by Bremer’s disbandment order. Hughes is a major figure in Ferguson’s film.

Colonel PAUL HUGHES (Senior Program Officer, U.S. Institute of Peace): He treated the subject matter with a great deal of balance. And the artistry that went into the film itself is just phenomenal.

McCHESNEY: The film does have its critics, though. Harlan Ullman, a senior fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses thinks it doesn’t go far enough.

Mr. HARLAN ULLMAN (Senior Fellow, Center for Naval Analyses): What I was disappointed by is that when you take a look and really ask the question, how did this happen? How do we manage to do what we’ve done in Iraq? How we made so many mistakes? Why have we made so many mistakes? I would have liked to have seen a moving picture that really got in to the how and rather than the what.

McCHESNEY: Ferguson says copies of the film were sent to the White House.

Mr. SETH MOULTON (Marine Lieutenant): And are you telling me that’s the best America can do? No. Don’t tell me that. Don’t tell the Marines who fought for a month in Najaf that. Don’t tell the Marines who, who are still fighting every day in Fallujah that that’s the best America can do.

McCHESNEY: And as yet, he’s received no response. John McChesney, NPR News.


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