Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West. Don't you just love a good hate flick? This one takes a whack at Islam (after offering the caveat that it's not targeting all Muslims), asserting that the terrorist threat is real and that Islamic militant extremists need to be stopped before they dominate the world. When I screened the Israeli/South African documentary, I invited a Republican, a Libertarian, a Socialist, and a Communist so that we could get myriad views rather than a single political bias. We all agreed that director Wayne Kopping's movie would have been more convincing if he'd taken a similar approach. And we also agreed that the film's obvious agenda to convince the audience that these extremists are the equivalent of modern-day Nazis smacks of propaganda. It doesn't help that evidentiary footage has been paired with sinister-sounding music and that interviews were shot with cheesy studio backdrops. Perhaps Kopping takes his aesthetic from the Fox News Channel? After screaming at the film for a half hour, the Communist and the Socialist (both pro-Palestinian) dismissed the documentary as rubbish and went to look up some hard facts on the Internet. The Libertarian remarked that the footage of "the enemy" young children in parents' arms, singers in explosive music videos, and radical Muslim evangelists on TV extolling jihad was fascinating but would have been stronger if the filmmakers had given some context to the sensationalist images they'd collected for their treatise. Even the Republican among us had trouble swallowing the "Thank God for heroes like George Bush and Tony Blair" subtext. If anything, the film demonstrates the travesties that occur when any religion (whether Islam and Judaism in the Middle East or Christianity and Judaism here in the West) is hijacked and its believers manipulated by a political agenda (the film's producer, HonestReporting.com, was founded by Aish HaTorah, an organization that fights anti-Israel media bias). It should be the perfect fare for a Sunday morning. (Sunday, October 22, 11:45 a.m., at Cinema Paradiso; 77 minutes.)
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For a full schedule of screenings and events, visit www.fliff.com.