Saturday, March 06, 2010

Amanpour on CNN hosts new documentary on the world history of genocide

On Saturday March 6 Christiane Amanpour’s documentary “Scream Bloody Murder” (2 hours) aired as a member of the series “CNN Presents”. The documentary is an examination of the history of genocide, and starts at Auschwitz, which I personally visited in May 1999. The link is here, and has many sublinks to individual reports. The Geneva Convention link from 1948 on the subject is here (I think we were told about this in Basic Training in the Army).

One of the longest segments tells the story of Raphael Lemkin (who invented "the word"), who tried to warn Poland about Hitler in 1933 but was not listened to. He escaped to the United States, but his entire family was lost when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.

But one of the most chilling concerned the Khmer Rouge, which was a kind of “Cultural Revolution” on steroids, not only eliminating book learning and intellectuals, but going back to national purity. Ted Koppel has covered this in the late 1970s and had even interviewed Pol Pot. This was the subject of the 1984 film “The Killing Fields.”

Christiane then goes on to cover the 1993 Balkan wars, where the Bosnian Serbs went after the Muslims in the area, a pre-history to 9/11 that we often forget about.

She also covers "Hotel Rwanda" ("the tall trees") and the Sudan and Darfur ("The Devil on Horseback"). At the very end, the documentary shows the opposing sides in the Rwanda conflict working together in forgiveness making peace baskets.

The "CNN Presents" reports tend to be interrupted with breaking news, and don't have the continuity of theatrical documentary films. Yet CNN could work with a theatrical distributor (like Disney's Miramax Films) to format these documentaries for Landmark and similar arthouse chaims.

Here is a 2001 interview by Amanpour with then-president Khatami of Iran in November 2001, shortly after 9/11. None of tonight’s show has embeds yet, but probably will later.

If you have trouble connecting to the interview, go here. It's important.

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