The film chronicles the latest in the thinking and activism of the noted linguist Noam Chomsky, who since the Vietnam War era has been a vocal and consistent critic of the way the United States exercises state power in the world arena. A collaboration between the independent Japanese production house Siglo and American film director John Junkerman, “Power and Terror” is in worldwide distribution, beginning with theatrical release in Japan, the United States, and Australia.
In the course of organizing screenings of this film, we have heard from many people who stand opposed to the aggression that has followed 9-11, beginning with the hasty and reckless unilateral attack on Afghanistan and leading inexorably to the mounting of a coercive assault (terrorism) on Iraq by the American and British governments—blindly followed by the Japanese government. We hope that this site will provide an opportunity for people working for peace to exchange information and ideas. We look forward to your participation.
The production of this film began out of a very personal motivation, spurred by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States. The attack itself was a shock, but to me, the subsequent American military response and the Japanese government's unquestioning support caused both a greater shock and deep feelings of tragedy.
I felt as if the Bush administration's attack on Afghanistan under the banner of "righteousness" in the war on terrorism, coupled with the violent simplification of the world into a "with us or against us" dichotomy, was aimed at me personally and could even lead to the denial of my existence.
It was at that point that I was exposed to Noam Chomsky's perspective on 9/11. His thoughts were profoundly stimulating, and the persuasiveness of his argument came like much-needed rain soaking into the parched earth.
Addressing the question of why the terrorist attacks of 9/11 had taken place, Chomsky convincingly placed the attacks in the context of the history of American use of violent state power, often against the weak in the poorer countries of the world, and painted a portrait of the United States as a state that has itself engaged in terrorism of unparalleled scope.
"What can I do," I asked myself, "what should I do, as a film producer?" And there was only one answer: Produce a film of interviews with Noam Chomsky, and through that film, to convey Chomsky's perspective as well as the honesty with which he expresses it.
I was certain that many shared my distress over the events that followed in the aftermath of 9/11. This film does not intend to provide the answer to the question of what we should now do. Instead, each individual who engages this question participates, we believe, in the collective reality that "knowledge is power."
Now, in the spring of 2003, the American and British militaries have launched their attack on Iraq. I know that many are opposed to war as means of solving problems. In the end, we are made to feel powerless when those with power impose their will through the use of force. Some 15 years ago, at the time of the withdrawal of the former Soviet army from Afghanistan, I spent two years producing a documentary film on location there. There were rocket attacks on Kabul every night, and many civilians suffered injuries. Still, despite all that was going on, the theaters in the capital were filled with people watching movies, and the shouts and laughter never dissipated. The people were then watching Hong Kong kung-fu movies, but I remember sensing, in a small way, the power of film. As a film producer, continuing to make films is like a mission for me. I hope that, through the ideas and demeanor of Noam Chomsky presented in "Power and Terror," people may be able to draw on the values of honesty and humility toward others, which we have learned from the disasters of history and in which we have believed over the years.
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May 17, 2008, 17:55:33
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