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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Our Own Private Bin Laden (Download)

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Zbigniew Brzezinski

Zbigniew Brzezinski,
President Carter's National Security Advisor 1977-1981


The film highlights the historical background that led to the fatal link between post-Cold War politics and the emergence of new forms of terrorism that succeeded in establishing their own economy. It traces the connection between privatization, deregulation and free market and the globalization of terrorism.

OUR OWN PRIVATE BIN LADEN examines the complicity between economic structures of "terror" and "the war on terror," their interdependencies, and the creation of the Bin Laden industry as a consequence.

The film explains why the world after September 11, 2001 is less the result of a stray act of terror but the consequence of a series of fatal decisions made from 1945 onwards.

Milton Bearden
Milton Bearden,
Former CIA Chief of the Soviet/East European Division;
the CIA Station Chief in Pakistan 1985-1989


The 25th Vancouver International Film Festival
Review by Penelope Mulligan, October 2006

Review Vancouver
by Ed Farolan, October 2006

Tahoe/Reno International Film Festival Review (USA), August 2006 (DOC)

Maui Film Festival Review (PDF)

Foreign themes highlight Canadian Spectrum
Article by Susan Tolusso - Playback, May 1, 2006

Hot Docs
Globe & Mail, April 28, 2006

Eye Weekly, April 27, 2006

Dismantling myths and playing ball
Article by Antoine Tedesco -, April 2006

Article by Liam Lacey- Globe & Mail, April 22, 2006

A taste of the Hot Docs lineup (PDF)
Article by Guy Dixon - Globe & Mail, March 29, 2006

Press Release (PDF)
The European Independent Film Festival (ÉCU), March 28, 2006

Sundance in Europe?
Article on, March 21, 2006

Notebook - Eyes Wide Shut (PDF)
Article by Lewis H. Lapham - Harper's Magazine, February 2006

Centre of the doc universe (PDF)
Article by Jennie Punter about the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam - Globe & Mail, December 7, 2005

IDFA's Daily Review (PDF)
International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), November 25, 2005

Entry in The New York Times' movie section


It’s appropriate that a quotation from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” should appear near the beginning of this enlightening documentary. The 2400-year-old advice on the craft of disinformation and the importance of writing history before it’s made has obviously been studied by a few politicians we’ve known. (The book is also a bible for corporations, by the way. It’s required reading at Harvard Business School.) Director Samira Goetschel has assembled an impressive roster of interviewees (heroes, villains and pragmatic ex-players) who ensure that volumes of vital information keep coming our way. The film’s main subject is the commodification of whatever enemies or remedies the ruling elite needs in order to further its long-range plans (the pathetic shortsightedness of which is evident in America’s use of Afghanistan as a battleground, first against Soviet communism and now against Islamic jihad). But the beast has numerous tentacles and Goetschel swings from as many of them as posslble, from the counterflow between coalition arms and Afghan opium to the institutionalized complicity of international banking establishments and the attempts to “democratize” countries which have enough oil to qualify for the favour. As one talking head commented ruefully, “How do you keep anyone’s attention for something this complicated?”. The existence of counterspin like this may be part of the answer.

Goetschel, in a series of interviews with such personalities as former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, political activist Noam Chomsky, former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, former CIA Director of Operations Stansfield Turner, and others comes up with interesting insights on how Bin Laden became a folk hero because of American media.

This documentary was impeccably filmed, and gives us a clear understanding of the persona of Osama bin Laden, connecting him to the economics of war and terrorism.

The film won the Best Foreign Documentary Award in the European Film Festival in Paris last March.

Goetschel received her MA in Modern European Studies at Columbia University in 1999, and won the 1992 BFA graduating film winner award at NYU.

Iranian-born Goetschel’s Our Own Private Bin Laden was the first film in the DVD player; a film she says is more about dismantling the myth surrounding Osama bin Laden than constructing a new one.

Framed by America’s creation of situations they cannot control -- Vietnam, Afghanistan or present-day Iraq -- Goetschel’s mission was to try and understand the rise of Islamic militant fundamentalism that led to 9/11. Her research started in one direction but ended with American foreign policy during the Cold War to corrupt banks, covert operations, arms trading and drug trafficking.

First thing you notice is the calibre of interviews she managed to secure, interviews she attributes to her determination rather than the level of difficulty: Stansfield Turner (Cold War director of the CIA), President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, Pakistani ex-president Benazir Bhutto, prominent investigative journalists and many more.

When asked which interviewees she trusted/distrusted most, she replied simply: “I think it was more about the interviewees’ trust towards me than the other way around. I was interested to listen to their stories, what they had to say and were willing to share with me.”

Goetschel sees “civilizations” as a word used in lieu of religion, “which carries with it the combative language of religious wars -- i.e.: Christianity vs. Islam, and the idea this antagonism could be best combated by military measures, instead of addressing the real causes of the crisis: poverty, exploitation, racism, and above all, lack of respect for other human beings.”

Her subjects illustrate an eerie chronology of politics, history, and economics that funded the Taliban, gave birth to Islamic jihad, and how the western media (in particular the U.S.) have led to the mass-market creation of Bin Laden the myth rather than the man.

“I don’t have ‘my own private bin Laden’,” she wrote. “My film’s point is that we have collectively produced one and that is the problem.”

The fallout from war and imperialism is also germane to Iranian-born Goetschel's one-hour Our Own Private Bin Laden. Fernie says the film "came out of nowhere" and had her "completely riveted."

Although Goetschel attended NYU film school, she had no interest in documentaries. But on Sept. 11, she gazed in horror as the World Trade Center buildings fell. She felt the collapse of the "safe place" she and her family had built in America - far from Iran, where her father had been murdered during the Islamic revolution. And she was frustrated the media would not adequately explain why Osama Bin Laden's men slammed those planes into the twin towers.

Her quest for answers led to the U.S.'s foreign policy during the Cold War and to many extraordinary interviews that tell a chilling tale about the roots of Islamic fundamentalism, and about today's international struggle to control resources and huge profits.

Goetschel doubts she could have made this film if she had stayed in the U.S. But from her Toronto base, she could convince such well-informed sources as Pakistan People's Party head Benazir Bhutto and former CIA director Stansfield Turner to go on camera.

All along the journey, Goetschel paid for the film with her own money, pension funds and relatives' money. She had no broadcaster support because they all wanted her to do the film their way, including showing images of Bin Laden, which she didn't want to do.

Festivals all over Europe accepted the film, but none in the U.S. programmed it, although many asked Goetschel to submit it. "Not even underground festivals," she adds. She hopes Hot Docs will generate offers from broadcasters, and is happy it will also be included in the fest's educational curriculum.

Written, Produced & Directed by

Samira Goetschel

Executive Producer

Willi Goetschel

Executive in charge of Post-Production

Patrice Barrat


Shay J. Katz


Kirsten A. Martin
François Crépin
Baudouin Koenig
Paco Wiser

Archival Research Supervisor

Edwige Laforet

Post-Production Supervisor

Shay J. Katz

Post-Production Manager

Sarah Trévillard

Post-Production Assistant

Xavier Mutin

Visual Effects

Shay J. Katz

Production Accountant

Aube Giroux

Post-Production Accountant

Anne Marie Cadoz

Research Assistants

Scott Marentette
Sasha Noyes

Assistant Editor

Xavier Mutin

Archival Research Assistant

Veronique Besnard

Supervising Sound Designer

Shay J. Katz

Sound Designer

Cyril Jegou

Sound Mix

Fred Bielle

Still Photographers

François Crépin
Xavier Mutin

Music Consultant

Jean-Marie Béasse

Legal Consultant

Paul Okel

Post-Production Facilities


Archives and Photos

British Film Institute
Gaumont Pathé
NBC News
ABC News
AP Worldwide Photos
US Senate Archives
American Embassy in Paris
Le Nouvel Observateur
Le Monde
The Nation
Film Comment
Time Magazine


Chastè Films, Inc.
Phone: (416) 789-4873
Fax: (416) 781-9857

VEI, a division of Visual Entertainment Inc.
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VEI is distributed by DEP/Vivendi Visual Entertainment (Canada) and Navarre Corporation (USA).


Films Media Group
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Phone: (609) 671 5726
Fax: (609) 671 5772

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