PORTRAIT FILM: War Reporter Robert Fisk has the courage to monitor and challenge. He is known for reporting from the front lines in violation of the official line of politicians and authorities.

Gray is a regular film critic in MODERN TIMES.
E-mail: carmengray@gmail.com
Published: February 18, 2020
This Is Not A Movie - Robert Fisk And The Politics Of Truth
Director: Yung chang
(Canada, Germany)

- I'm starting to wonder why I started with journalism, says Robert Fisk in a 1980 archive record at the beginning of This Is Not a Movie while running toward the car and safety after a grenade attack Abadan near the border between Iran og Iraq. The statement is a bit haunting, but very appropriate in the movie.

This Is Not a Movie is a portrait of Fisk and his career - director Chang offers a thought-provoking film about the limitations and usefulness of war reporting in addition to paying tribute to the high-profile investigative journalist and war reporter.

There is plenty of footage that is as captivating as the opening scene, but instead of piling up the film with Fisk's many and unimaginable experiences from the Middle East, the film sensibly draws on thematic threads about the significance of war - or rather meaninglessness - and our urge to tell war stories.

"If you don't go somewhere and witness what happens with your own eyes, you can't get close to the truth." Robert Fisk

Reporter of the old school

The conversations with Fisk in his apartment in Beirut are as insightful to the core of his work as the clips we see from the front lines. We also see him at work in dark alleys with the notepad in hand on his way away from the "fixers" who help him, he talks to the locals and is a prime example of an old school reporter who does the hard way: "If you don't go somewhere and with your own eyes witness what is happening, you can't get close to the truth, "says Fisk in the film.

Now that little journalistic work is fact-checked on the internet, such good, "old-fashioned" journalism is more important than ever. At the same time, this type of journalism is not respected by media barons who are only concerned about profits.

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Courage to challenge

Respecting first-hand sources and facts entails an imperative to always tell the truth, as well as having the courage to monitor and challenge the power centers no matter how unpopular you may be. It is an ideal that Fisk expresses with the greatest of course; he has demonstrably a long history of reporting from the front lines in violation of the official line of political power in the West.

He started his career reporting from the Belfast uprising in the 70s for the London newspaper The Times. During his time in Belfast, he realized that the British army did not have a monopoly on the truth, a discovery that immediately made him a controversial figure at home.

Fish's sympathies for the rage in Middle East aimed at the colonial powers has also met with much mockery from those who have a different political opinion, but he insists that the reporter's clear role is to explain the reality as it looks among people, objectively, but always in party with the weakest party.

"I am not a machine," he says to those who embrace the myth of total neutrality, highlighting the need for reporting that is not substantiated by emotion, but by essential humanity. Reporting the truth includes calling things by their proper names, avoiding what Fish calls "de-semantising" of war where words like "clash" are used instead of "killing" and "settlement" is used instead of "colony" ”, Which hides responsibility and power imbalance.

censored

He felt that his reports were increasingly censored then Rupert Murdoch took over in The Times, and Fish started in The Independent instead. He insisted that if reporters risk their lives to tell the truth, the editors must be brave enough to print it.

When he reported from the massacre in Lebanon In 1982, where he literally went over the bodies of the approximately 1700 killed Palestinian and Lebanese Shiites killed by Israeli allies, he gained new self-confidence in reporting war crimes and realized the importance of keeping alive the knowledge of genocide.

"If reporters risk their lives telling the truth, the editors must be brave enough to print it." Robert Fisk

He does not shy away from any areas of his work, be it arms trade or transfer of weapons Bosnia by Saudi-Arabia to Islamists while NATO know what is going on - which poses great danger because of the huge sums of money involved.

This Is Not a Movie has its title from the movie that inspired Fisk to become a journalist: Alfred Hitchcock's spy thriller Foreign Correspondent , if the hard-boiled protagonist is sent to cover the Second World War (and gets the girl on the bargain).

Nobody wins in war

Fish says he is more angry now than before, as he has realized that the statement "the good boys win" is a myth. Foreign correspondents do not have that much influence, and it is arrogant to believe otherwise. Besides, there are no winners in war, it will always be a loss to humanity.

As he walks through the almost completely abandoned town of Abadan, Fisk says: "You can bring a bunch from Hollywood hit and make movies, but the dead can't talk, and the living are gone. "

Where are they living? It is the root of all suffering in the Middle East, the geopolitical catalysts for the refugee crisis and terrorist attacks in the West that Fisk is trying to elucidate. It is this purpose, this testimony, that seems to give him energy to endure the job, despite his lack of rosy glasses when it comes to the limitations of his work. As he says, "You will never be able to win, but you will lose unless you continue to fight."

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