Desperately seeking Osama (Super Size Me director goes on global quest for Bin Laden) - MikeWB - 01-26-2008 06:49 PM
Quote:Desperately seeking Osama
Can Morgan Spurlock succeed where the US Army failed? The Super Size Me director tells Jeremy Kay about his global quest for Bin Laden
Thursday January 24, 2008
Food for thought ... Morgan Spurlock. Photograph: Linda Nylind/Guardian
A little less than a year ago, deep within the confines of a private screening room in Berlin, about 50 international film-buyers sat down to watch a 15-minute teaser trailer from Morgan Spurlock's Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden? The follow-up to Spurlock's 2004 Oscar-nominated documentary Super Size Me was hot stuff - so much so that the executives were sworn to secrecy about what they would see that day.
Inevitably, though, word leaked out. Spurlock was filming top-secret footage in Afghanistan, they said. The wisecracking, mustachioed maverick, who had put his life on the line to demonstrate the ills of a McDonald's-only diet, was undergoing anti-terrorism training and had learned kidnap evasion tactics. Forget about fast food and the obesity epidemic, Spurlock had bigger fish to fry: he was going to pull off what America and its allies had failed to accomplish since 9/11. He was going to capture the World's Most Notorious Terrorist Mastermind. He was going to bring in Osama bin Laden.
Cut to the present. Spurlock is cradling a cup of coffee in a Utah restaurant, the morning after his film's world premiere at the Sundance festival earned a rousing reception. Two fingers on his left hand are in a splint - a wound incurred not from a Taliban interrogation but from a snowboarding accident several days earlier. Spurlock smiles a lot and has the calm demeanour of a man who has returned, enlightened, from a Homeric journey. But the journey was not what anybody, including Spurlock, expected.
"After Super Size Me, I remember sitting down in 2005 and thinking about what to do next," says Spurlock, in his sing-song timbre. Then he noticed a resurgence of media interest in Bin Laden. "People were asking why we couldn't find him," he says. An idea was planted. When Spurlock ran into a like-minded venture capitalist called Adam Dell, who became executive producer on the film, the adventure began, with $3m in backing from French financiers.
The movie's opening 15 minutes serve as a reminder of why Super Size Me ballooned into a cultural phenomenon, becoming one of the highest-grossing documentaries ever. As Spurlock's voiceover raps about the need to find Bin Laden, we see footage of the film-maker toning up in the gym, taking a course in Arabic and learning survival skills, followed by an audacious animated sequence in which the West Virginian 37-year-old and his nemesis square up to each other as video game avatars.
It's a breathtaking and silly conceit, a typically dazzling montage from the poster-boy of the YouTube generation. However, of far greater significance is a new subtext that bubbles within the Spurlock psyche, one that derives from the fact that, in early 2006, Spurlock's wife, the vegan chef Alexandra Jamieson, announced she was pregnant.
This had a seismic impact on the project. "The film took on a whole different meaning," he says. "The question becomes: what kind of world am I bringing this kid into? Anybody who's on the verge of becoming a father will know that feeling: you want the world to be a better place.
"The media blew things way out of proportion before the film came out, and made everybody think it was going to be a certain type of movie. The goal was initially to capture Bin Laden, but a friend once told me that if your notion of what your film will be hasn't changed by the time you get to the end, then you didn't listen to anybody. You walk through a door and there are three more that take you in a new direction."
The new direction didn't stop Spurlock from travelling, with cameraman Daniel Marracino, to such far-flung regions as Morocco, Israel, Egypt, Leeds (sadly, destined for the cutting-room floor) and Afghanistan. It just tweaked the outcome. Spurlock is an affable man whose laid-back charm and goofy humour are evident during interviews with journalists, religious leaders and ordinary people across the Arab world. One of his lines, an offhand inquiry about the whereabouts of Bin Laden, raised a huge laugh from the Sundance audience. This is pure Spurlock - yet the very casualness of the question reveals how his original goal was supplanted by something bigger.
It will come as no surprise to learn that the US administration isn't about to deposit a $25m reward into Spurlock's bank account. Bin Laden, if he is even still alive, remains at large. "I realised that finding this guy isn't the answer," says Spurlock. "I always wanted to learn what shaped him and his followers." He believes the movie shows how US foreign policy and socio-economic forces in US-backed regimes created a hatred that certain factions could exploit.
"At the same time," he adds, "I met so many people who want the same things for themselves and their families that we want. These moderate voices are not represented in the media. All we hear about are the extremists, the terrorists, because it's all about fear and scare tactics. I wanted to give these people a voice."
It's an approach that has drawn favourable comments from the LA Times, which, after chastising Spurlock for not catching his man, talks of "a surprising sweetness to be found behind some of those imposing Muslim beards. Perhaps because [Spurlock's] not shouting, people may actually listen." The website Ain't It Cool News wasn't so impressed, calling it "one big 98-minute ego-fart".
Edited down from 1,000 hours of footage, the movie shows Spurlock strolling into several danger spots. He accompanies Israeli police on a bomb-disposal assignment, wanders into a Saudi mosque while an imam invokes war against America, unintentionally incites a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews to near-violence, and gets embedded in a US army unit in Afghanistan that comes under attack from the Taliban.
"I never tell Alex everything I'm going to do," Spurlock says of his wife, who "banned" him from going to Iraq. "The gist of what I said to Alex was that everything was fine and nothing was really going on. We never told her we were fired on in the Gaza Strip, for example. She knows me well enough to know that things probably were going on, but she didn't want to hear about it."
He pauses. "We were scared to death a lot of the time, actually. When the plane flying you into Afghanistan goes into a steep spiral descent to avoid potential anti-aircraft fire, you know you're entering an intense environment. One night in Kabul, there was a knock at my door. The security guard had told us never to open the door at night because the Taliban had started kidnapping western journalists from their hotels. I freaked out, got out of bed and followed my security training - standing behind the door holding something in my hand, ready to whack whoever came into the room. Fortunately, they went away."
In Afghanistan, the tone of the film becomes more sombre, as Spurlock nears his final destination. "We were following clues, as people told us to go here or there. Pretty much everything we heard led us to Peshawar." This is the tribal region in Pakistan where many believe Bin Laden resides. The crew was denied entry to Pakistan more than once; eventually they bribed their way in.
At the border with Peshawar, a more immediate kind of fatherly imperative replaces Spurlock's earlier gung-ho desire to rid the world of evil. "We decided not to go into the tribal regions because there was another place for me to be at that moment, which was back home with my wife Alex. Shoot what you can and be safe wherever possible - but no matter what you get, it isn't worth losing your life. So as we got close to the border with Peshawar, that was close enough for me. I realised in that moment that it was time to head home to Brooklyn. There are so many other issues to address, and that's what I tried to do in the movie."
Spurlock, now the father of a 13-month-old boy, readily admits he remains as clueless as the next person about the whereabouts of Bin Laden. He is not surprised that the international efforts to find him have failed, given that Bin Laden probably no longer uses any kind of device that could betray his location. Watching the film's sequences with the US Army, you get the sense that they too have moved on to the broader strategy of supporting the Afghan National Army's fight against the Taliban.
As Super Size Me proved, Spurlock is no journalist; rather, he is a direct activist with a camera who tries to use his platform to engage audiences in an age where the blizzard of technology and information causes people to lose sight of one basic truth. "The media manipulate what is going on out there to keep people afraid," he says. "But we should ask more questions for ourselves, talk to each other and challenge what we hear. Then we can learn about our similarities. Maybe that will give us a better chance of surviving in the future"
· Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? will be released later this year
Desperately seeking Osama (Super Size Me director goes on global quest for Bin Laden) - solar - 01-26-2008 07:24 PM
Super Osama me !!:D
Terrific article, Mike W. B. ...B)
... thanks for the post !!:)
Desperately seeking Osama (Super Size Me director goes on global quest for Bin Laden) - Hei Hu Quan - 01-26-2008 10:05 PM
Taking for granted that Osama bin Laden a.k.a. Tim Osman is even still alive, which I hope Morgan Spurlock can prove conclusively, if he were to actually locate the CIA asset he'd be as dead as vaudeville before he could reveal it. Osama is the linchpin to all the lies that the official story of 9/11 are built upon and the subsequent motivations behind perpetual war on terror... oops I mean war for people's strategic resources.
Desperately seeking Osama (Super Size Me director goes on global quest for Bin Laden) - DJOldskool - 01-26-2008 10:32 PM
Interesting, I definately enjoyed Super Size Me. Of course we would like him to show how they never really tried to fing him at all. We have known where he is for years, The US can basically do as it pleases, but did not comb that area in packistan. Then again a mainstream filmaker is never going to go far enough for us.
Mayby exposing the fearmongering by the media and some of the reasons these people hate the west is the best we can hope for. There are many Americans that think its because they 'Hate our freedoms' LMFAO. But then again most of those people wouldnt watch a docu like this.
All in all I am looking forward to this one.
Desperately seeking Osama (Super Size Me director goes on global quest for Bin Laden) - Hans Olo - 01-27-2008 11:59 AM
OBL has most probably died of liver failure years ago. If that was the case, do you think the movie will end with "well, all the evidence points to him being dead. All the later OBL films were a hoax fabricated by the CIA and the MSM"? No way. My bet is they will "find" him in one way or the other and by doing that continue spreading the lie that he's alive and therefore assist in brainwashing the general public.
Desperately seeking Osama (Super Size Me director goes on global quest for Bin Laden) - DJOldskool - 01-27-2008 12:42 PM
If you read the article they track him to a mountainous province in Pakistan called Peshawar. This is the same place 'intelligence' said he fled to after they couldn't find him in Afganistan. He then decides it is too dangerous and he needed to get back to his pregnant missus.
And I agree he is most probably dead, he cannot hide in a cave or hut unless he brings a hospital ward with him. I think he was on deaths door when 9/11 was being planned. His final gift to his handlers and the NWO was to be the non existant eternal boogy man. 1984 anyone?
Desperately seeking Osama (Super Size Me director goes on global quest for Bin Laden) - hammer - 01-27-2008 09:08 PM
Translation of Funeral Article in Egyptian Paper:
al-Wafd, Wednesday, December 26, 2001 Vol 15 No 4633
News of Bin Laden's Death
and Funeral 10 days ago
A prominent official in the Afghan Taleban movement announced yesterday the death of Osama bin Laden, the chief of al-Qa'da organization, stating that binLaden suffered serious complications in the lungs and died a natural and quiet death. The official, who asked to remain anonymous, stated to The Observer of Pakistan that he had himself attended the funeral of bin Laden and saw his face prior to burial in Tora Bora 10 days ago. He mentioned that 30 of al-Qa'da fighters attended the burial as well as members of his family and some friends from the Taleban. In the farewell ceremony to his final rest guns were fired in the air. The official stated that it is difficult to pinpoint the burial location of bin Laden because according to the Wahhabi tradition no mark is left by the grave. He stressed that it is unlikely that the American forces would ever uncover any traces of bin Laden.