This Is Not A Movie
Director: Yung Chang
National Film Board of Canada (NFB) / Documentary Edge Festival
Subtitled Robert Fisk and The Politics of Truth – This Is Not A Movie is both portrait of Fisk and his working methods and a reminder of how journalism has changed, perhaps how far it’s fallen; certainly the way the world works now is different – can you apply the same standards and discipline to a changing medium?
Framed around an extended talking head interview with the celebrated war correspondent, Yung Chang’s documentary moves between Fisk’s words and archival footage that shows him in war-zones – as close to the action as can be. Meticulous as fact-checker and with a deep integrity, Fisk goes to all sources, ticks all boxes, crosses ‘t’s and dots ‘i’s – and then phones, faxes, emails in the story…
As the years have gone by he’s moved – perhaps grudgingly – to the purely digital medium. Though what appears to matter most to Fisk is that the story is read.
Well, that’s not entirely true – he documents his lack of interest in the Rupert Murdoch model; saying when the headlines didn’t match his stories, when the politics of ad-selling and palm-greasing stood in the way of the integrity of his work he moved. And when the paper he moved to (The Independent) stopped printing and went fully digital Fisk was happy enough – his own working methods haven’t changed in his four decades with the publication.
At the centre of this film is the ideal of what journalism was and how and when and whether that matters in the battle of what it has become.
Fisk here is all class. As is Chang – allowing his subject the full scope, the chance to reflect rather unsentimentally on his life’s work.
For students of journalism, for followers of politics this is not a movie to be missed.
This year’s Documentary Edge Festival is all online – This Is Not A Movie is part of the program.