Fair Game, Foul Game

" In a time of universal deceit, truth becomes a revolutionary act."
George Orwell

Although they may have been a beak for what normally went on in the classroom, when I was in school educational films were quite dull.

 Whatever the topic was, it seemed to be scrubbed of any "flavor," making even today's PG films seem risqué.

These films all seemed to all be made by the same encyclopedia company and narrated by the same person.

Dull!  Dull!  Dull!

>> No more -- at least if you look to some very informative and even captivating films based on true events that have recently been released.

>> The latest one, a film that has garnered major awards, is Fair Game - Wife, Mother, Spy, starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

Without the need for gratuitous sex, violence or snide humor, the film grabs your attention and doesn't let go until the very end.

Okay, maybe it does have a bit a sex appeal -- the film is based on the life of an attractive blond CIA spy by the name of Valerie Plame. (That's her in the photo.)

>>Fair Game is based on recent events -- events centering on the highly questionable justification for the Iraq war.

By the end of 2010 that war was responsible for the deaths 100,000 people, the displacement of millions, and the devastation of a country -- and that's not even counting the expenditure of billions of dollars. 

As we now know, "the truth was out there" but at the time it was ignored and discredited by the well organized pro-war rhetoric.

>> Based on his first-hand experience in Iraq, Ms. Plame's husband, Joe Wilson, a former Ambassador who the Bush Administration had previously commended for his work, felt it necessary to reveal the lack of truth in the Administration's justification for the war.

Statesmen around the world unofficially tried to warn us, saying the justification for the war was faulty, and that based on religious realities in Iraq, it could only result in an ongoing "quagmire."

But the Bush Administration with the help of right-wing pundits went to great lengths to silence critics.

In a very political and even treasonous move, Ms. Plame's role at the CIA was revealed. This "outing" not only put lives at risk, but caused carefully cultivated foreign contacts to mistrust U.S. promises.

But Bush's reelection bid took precedence, and the "outing" of Plame made it possible for the couple to become the open target of a well-orchestrated, politically motivated smear campaign.

To question or criticize the Iraq war was un-American -- and for many people it still is.

" Friends, neighbors, business associates turned against both of them and their two young children, and they received death threats from US citizens who believed what they were being told by officials in the Administration."

>> Ms. Plame and her husband were put through hell -- not from the foreign insurgents Ms. Plame was working against who were bent on taking down the United States, but from her own government.

The truth finally came out (although by that time many people refused to believe it -- and many still do*) but it wasn't until this couple's lives and even their marriage was virtually destroyed.

After an impartial investigation, a noted person in the Republican Administration -- a person that some believed was taking the fall for higher ups-- was found guilty of crimes related to the affair and sentenced to 30 months in prison.

 But before he went to prison Bush granted him a Presidential Pardon.

Fair Game, considered by many critics as one of the best films of the year, won the National Board of Review's Freedom of Expression Award in 2010.

The film was released in theaters in November, 2010 and is now on DVD.

Ms. Plum's autobiography, Fair Game, on which the film is based, had to be published with large sections censored (literally and visually blacked out).

-Ron Whittaker

* I'm sure most of us have talked to people who still believe the widely-disseminated but false reasons (justifications) for the Iraq war including the "facts" that Iraq was behind 9/11 and that country had developed WMD's. Once people invest in a belief, even one later proven false, it's very hard to change their minds.

Other captivating historic films include:
  • Nothing But the Truth, a dramatic and engrossing film based on a true story  telling how protecting confidential sources can sometimes have profound effects. It stars Kate Beckinsale, Matt Dillon, and David Schwinner, among others.  Alan Alda's appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court is reason enough to rent this film. More information can be found in this blog piece.

  • Welcome to Sarajevo. If you are interested in being a foreign correspondent,foreign correspondent you should consider Welcome to Sarajevo, starring Stephen Dillane and Woody Harrelson. The film, which is based on a true story, makes use of actual news footage to very dramatically (and very graphically) show what war correspondents face.

  • Live From Baghdad -- Action drama starring Michael Keaton showing how CNN got exclusive television coverage of first U.S. invasion of Baghdad. The film explores some of the ethical issues inherent in 24-hour journalism. Although fictional, it's dramatic and realistic, and based on actual events.

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