Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Le Figaro review of Kill The Messenger

Here is a (rough, machine) translation of Le Figaro's article (pdf, original ) on KTM:
"Channel + “a woman to cut down” the true story of a woman recruited by the FBI after September 11 then sanctioned for her uprightness.

Perhaps the Public imagined that with the Children of Tranquility Bay (film on a center for young difficult Americans, rewarded in Fipa), programmed last May on France 2, Mathieu Verboud and Jean-Robert Vialley had reached a peak in the originality of the writing. But the public didn't count on this new investigation worthy of the best whodunnit by John Grisham…

The difference is that this is a true story. That of Sibel Edmonds, called “the most explosive woman of September 11”, an involuntary detonator of a politico-legal explosive business.

“It is while working on the phenomenon of “Whistle Blowers”, these employees who denounce the illegal intrigues their incredible owners and stories (Enron, pharmaceutical laboratories…), that we could come into contact with it”, tells Mathieu Verboud.

Shortly after September 11, this American born in Iran and having grown up in Turkey, who speaks Persan, Azeri and Turkish, is recruited by the FBI to translate kilometers of phone-tappings. Corruption, drugs, money laundering, companies screens, nuclear black market… what she will discover is amazing. But when spies infiltrated within the department of translation try to recruit her, she decides to inform her bosses. It is there that her life gets rocked…

Attempt at intimidation, reprisals, Sibel Edmonds is finally laid off… She turns to the Congress, then towards the Dept of Justice, but the Bush Administration chooses to muzzle this too-awkward witness, “to kill the messenger” like one says to the FBI, by exhuming an old law: the “secret States' privilege”. In short: Silence or the prison. Why? To hide what?

The Pitiless Microcosm of Washington

The business could have stopped there. But this is just the beginning for the small translator, flag-carrier for “whistle blowers”, a long struggle which the film-makers capture. A crusade for the right to the truth. And for the public, a diving haletante (?) in the twists and turns of the espionage. “When a woman leaves in war, she is never innocent" continues Mathieu Verboud. If a whistle blower can cause an earthquake, imagine when it is about September 11. It was thought that she knew an enormous secret. But the objective was also to show how the world of information had managed the terrorist attacks, the political pressures and the incompetence of the bureaucracy. ”

A work of really good investigation which required ninety days of filming and which took on board the film-makers during six months in the life of this “woman to be cut down”: "She authorized us to follow it all the more easily - as the press did not support her. She uses her public image like a strategy. But she gave us total freedom - so long as we did not ask about her specific secret.”

Their film thus points the failures of the internal investigations of the FBI, the hazardous methods, the flip-flopping, lies of the heartless microcosm of Washington, fully supported with testimonies, official speeches and recorded footage. Thus they follow senior officials, federal employees, intelligence agents (FBI, the CIA, NSA) who did not hesitate to come forward: “They needed to speak. In the information also, there are honest people. I wanted to show that the political power was certainly instrumental, but never the State had handled them as much”, insists Verboud.

The camera tracking faces, expressions, faintnesses. The result is the height of the ambition. Their accounts, pure and hard, are so rich in revelations and leaves the audience, incredulous, flabbergasted or disgusted, and will have the feeling of watching a psychological thriller which mixes suspense and reflexion. Just some lengths will be reproached. It certainly is a complex business.

This documentary which could have been only one investigation into how the Bush Administration defies national security, goes well beyond.

Putting in prospect the strange bonds between the American politicians, Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, diplomats, secret service, multinational weapons procurement, nuclear programs - léaire (?), this film casts an unexpected light on the global environment and the crisis in the Middle East."
Again, errors are mine - but wow! What a great review from Le Figaro! Congratulations again to Verboud and Vialley. Variety's review of Tranquility Bay is here:
Shocking docu "Tranquility Bay" presents evidence of abuse at several behavior modification centers for troubled teens run by a Utah-basedcompany. The company's Guantanamo Bay-style approach to education has been reported previously in the media, but this English-language pic by Gallic co-helmers Mathieu Verboud and Jean Robert Viallet provides an in-depth investigation that eschews sensationalism and builds a scrupulously mounted case against the org via moving interviews with victims and parents, as well as present and ex-employees. Applauded at the IDFA and Thessaloniki doc fests, "Bay" has yet to find a berth Stateside, where it will be of most interest.
I sooo can't wait to see KTM.

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