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The documentary must not die

Undermining official lies is the strength of the documentary, but one is threatened when one goes against established truths. Pilgrim's latest film is The Coming War on China. He now asks us to break the silence.


The first time I realized the power of documentary film was when I was editing my first film, The Quiet Mutiny. In the comment, I referred to a chicken my crew and I met while patrolling with US soldiers in Vietnam.

"It must be a Vietcong chicken – a communist chicken," said the sergeant. In the report he wrote: "Enemy observed."

The moment with the chicken seemed to emphasize the farce of the war – so I included it in the film. It may have been unwise. The UK Commercial Television Control Agency – then the Independent Television Authority or ITA – had asked to see my script. What was my source of the chicken's political affiliation,. . .

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Pilger is an award-winning journalist and author with a number of honorary doctorates from universities around the world.

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