American Radical is the probing, definitive documentary about American academic Norman Finkelstein. A devoted son of Holocaust survivors, ardent critic of Israel and U.S. Mid-East policy, and author of provocative books including, "The Holocaust Industry", Finkelstein has been steadfast at the center of many intractable controversies, including his recent denial of tenure at DePaul University. Called a lunatic and disgusting self-hating Jew by some, and an inspirational street-fighting revolutionary by others, Finkelstein is a deeply polarizing figure who struggles arise from core questions about freedom, identity and nationhood.
From Beirut to Kyoto, the filmmakers follow Finkelstein around the world as he attempts to negotiate a voice among both supporters and critics, providing an intimate portrait of the man behind the controversy while giving equal time to both his critics and supporters.
Statement of the Directors
For us, Finkelstein is the consummate documentary subject: a complex firebrand, principled to the point of self-ruin at the apex of several of the world's largest conflicts. A man who has never been asked to appear on mainstream American television, but who regularly appears - always creating controversy - in the international media. Norman Finkelstein's life is about focus, through a prism of his upbringing by Holocaust survivors. The dogged, often self-destructive pursuit of his principles and foes can both inspire and repel. At once anti-hero, clown, and merciless scholar, Finkelstein creates as many storms as he enters. Few will go where he does. A Jew deliberately walking into Hizbollah headquarters, into a Palestinian refugee camp, into a room filled with those who vehemently oppose his views, to speak his mind. And to what end? When radicals collide, does it create understanding? Some would argue, that sometimes it does. Others would claim that Finkelstein’s principled but too often bitter advocacy does much to discredit the cause of a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Audiences can decide for themselves.
Produced and Directed by DAVID RIDGEN and NICOLAS ROSSIER
Edited by CAMERON CLENDANIEL
Music by JUDD GREENSTEIN
Cameras DAVID RIDGEN and NICOLAS ROSSIER
Sound Design by ELI COHN
Co-producer CAMERON CLENDANIEL
Supervising Producer JENNIFER UTZ
Associate Producer JENNIFER FILIPPAZZO
Line Producers SAED ANDONI, LIDA CHARAF, DAN YARON
Assistant Producers CHRIS KRYSTALLIS, CAMILLE ALMADA
Additional Camera and Sound JAWAD METNI, JENNIFER UTZ, HANNA ABU SAADA, AARON BERMAN, JEFF BEARDALL, JASON FOWLER, MICHAEL KRANICKE, RAFI LANDAU, ARIEL MAYROSE, ELIZABETH PRESS, RAOUF ZAKI, JOHN VERSICAL, CATON VOLK, JILL WOODWARD, LIDA CHARAF
Translators SAMIR AL, HANAN TABBARA
Thank You to Our Participants NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, MUSA ABU-HASHHASH, NIDAL BARHAM, NOAM CHOMSKY, ALAN DERSHOWITZ, RICHARD FINKELSTEIN, RAUL HILBERG, JOHN MEARSHEIMER, DAVID OLESKER, LEN RUDNER, AVI SHLAIM, MAXINE TSVAIGRACH
Original Music Published by GOOD CHILD MUSIC (ASCAP)
Special Thanks to GHASSAN ANDONI, SUSAN BERGER, AP IMAGES, CBC NEWS, CHICAGO PUBLIC RADIO, DEMOCRACY NOW!, ELI CHOUKRI, STUART COXE, THE DOHA DEBATES, GERRIT ELBRINK, HENRY FINKELSTEIN, JOHN GOELET, GOOD CHILD MUSIC, SARA HAUSNER-LEVINE, GIDEON LEVY, ITN SOURCE, KATHERINE KNELLER, DON KNOX, ANDY LANSET, ALLAN NAIRN, NEDERLANDSE ISLAMITISCHE OMROEP, PETER NOVICK, PRODUCTION CRAFT, INC., SANDRA ROSSIER, DAVID SHAPIRO, NAJAT SHARAFEDDINE – FUTURE TELEVISION, JOHN SINNO, THE LAW OFFICES OF INNES SMOLANSKY, THE ZOLA LEVITT MINISTRIES, EZRA WINTON
May, 2011 Cinema Politica - Paris, France
April, 2011 London Palestinian Film Festival - London, UK
March, 2011 Middle East Now - Florence, Italy
February, 2011 Documentary Edge Film Festival - Aukland, New Zealand
January, 2011 Courrier International / MK2 Night - Paris, France
November, 2010 Iran International Documentary Film Festival - Tehran, Iran
November 11, 2010 International House - Philadelphia, USA
October 2010 Tri-Continental Film Festival - Johannesburg, South Africa
October 20-27, 2010 Bergen International Film Festival - Bergen, Norway
September 10-19, 2010 Milano Film Festival - Milan, Italy
August, 2010 Traverse City Film Festival - Traverse City, USA
August 8-12, 2010 Saskatoon, Canada
June 22-27, 2010 Documentarist - Istanbul, Turkey
June 9-14, 2010 Biografilm Festival - Bologna, Italy
June 3, 2010 Roxie Theatre - San Francisco, USA
May, 2010 Pacific Cinematheque - Vancouver, Canada
May 25, 2010 Henley International Film Festival - Henley-on-Thames, UK
May 7, 2010 Planete Doc Review Film Festival - Warsaw, Poland
May 7, 2010 DOXA Doc Film Festival - Vancouver, Canada
May 6, 2010 Hot Docs Film Festival - Toronto, Canada
April 24, 2010 Chicago Palestine Film Festival - Chicago, USA
April 23, 2010 Cinema du Parc - Montreal, Canada
April 15, 2010 Wexner Center for the Arts - Columbus, USA
April 12, 2010 It’s all True Film Festival - Sao Paolo, Brazil
April 11, 2010 The Frontline Club - London, UK
April 10, 2010 BAFICI - Buenos Aires, Argentina
March 28, 2010 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts - San Francisco, USA
March 26, 2010 Kinoteatr.doc Film Festival - Moscow, Russia
March 23, 2010 Zeitgeist Arts Center - New Orleans, USA
March 23, 2010 NOLA Film Festival - New Orleans, USA
March 12, 2010 Laemmle Theatre - Los Angeles, USA
March 8, 2010 Northwest Film Forum - Seattle, USA
February 11, 2010 Anthology Film Archives - New York City, USA
January 18, 2010 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival - Atlanta, USA
January 10, 2010 Argus Festival - Denver, USA
December 15, 2009 Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival - Jerusalem, Israel
November 11, 2009 CPH:DOX - Copenhagen, Denmark
November 11, 2009 IDFA - Amsterdam, The Netherlands
November 11, 2009 RIDM - Montreal, Canada
November 4, 2009 Sheffield Doc/Fest - Sheffield, UK
October 28, 2009 Carleton Cinema Politica - Ottawa, Canada
October 23, 2009 North of Nowhere Expo - Edmonton, Canada
October 16, 2009 Boston Palestine Film Festival - Boston, USA
September 22, 2009 DocuDays - Beirut, Lebanon
September 17, 2009 IFP/Chicago Underground Film Festival - Chicago, USA
REVIEWS & QUOTES
"American Radical is a powerful film - brave, bold, incendiary. I highly recommend it!"
MICHAEL MOORE, award-winning filmmaker
"Surprisingly entertaining...a compelling portrait of a difficult man."
MARK COHEN, The Jewish Daily Forward
"A revealing and nuanced documentary...deserves to be seen widely as a fascinating introduction to the man and his views."
"An incredibly powerful portrait."
The Frontline Club, London
"...one of the most talked-about documentary of the last months, a fascinating portrait that confidently walks that tightrope known as balance."
The Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival
"American Radical is a nuanced and powerful portrait of the scholar Norman Finkelstien, one of the nation's most courageous and embattled intellectuals. It is a reminder that mendacity and timidity, when in the service of conventional beliefs, are more highly prized in most universities than truth. It illustrates that those who unmask the lies of the intellectual elite swiftly become their victims. The power and subtext of this film, however, is not in the wars fought between Finkelstien and those like Alan Dershowitz who seek to destroy him, but in Finkelstein's powerful fealty to his mother's suffering in the Warsaw Ghetto and later the Nazi death camps. Finkelstein sees in all who are oppressed his mother's degradation and pain. This is a movie that is, at its core, about the unshakable bond of love between a parent and a true and faithful son who refuses to forget or compromise."
CHRIS HEDGES, former New York Times Mid-East correspondent, author of War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning
"American Radical is a well-done, intimate documentary"
ELIZABETH COFFMAN, Inside Higher Education
"The filmmakers present a very balanced look at a somewhat unbalanced character. Finkelstein’s polarizing politics will inflame some viewers, validate others and intrigue everyone."
JUDY MARX, The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
"A fascinating, well-rounded portrait of Finkelstein that simultaneously informs, inspires, and infuriates...the filmmakers ride a delicate line, assembling a warts-and-all portrait that shows why Finkelstein is deeply respected and equally reviled."
MARK ACHBAR, award-winning director of The Corporation and Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media
"This deeply researched, probing film transcends politics and sociology: it's a profoundly humanistic document about the roots and consequences of speaking your mind."
SAUL RUBINEK, Canadian actor and director
"A well-balanced portrait...the doc is full of chutzpah and thought-provoking ideas."
MEG HEWINGS, The Hour
"Intimate and revealing."
The Miami Herald
"American Radical delivers a high-octane dose of the most controversial man in America!”
MICHELLE FOX, San Francisco Weekly
"A powerful portrait."
The Montreal Gazette
"American Radical is one of those rare great docs because its power comes from the unavoidable notion that we are taking one more step closer to the truth.”
"...there are few such films as explosive and gripping as American Radical."
"A guaranteed argument starter...an engaging portait of an academic whose work is both fueled and undermined by his vitriolic personality."
J. R. JONES, The Chicago Reader
"Given the tone of uncompromising adulation that can underlie such profiles, audiences may be surprised at how frank this portrait of Finkelstein is.”
JIM QUILTY, The Daily Star (Lebanon)
"Powerful work...This is a film that shines because it dares to articulate the key issues within the Jewish Diaspora."
ANTHONY LOEWENSTEIN, author of My Israel Question
"While this tenure-challenged Middle Eastern studies professor is hardly pleasant cinematic company, it's tough to look away.”
GARY GOLDSTEIN, The Los Angeles Times
"David Ridgen and Nicolas Rossier's documentary on Norman Finkelstein...promises to prove as controversial as the man himself.”
RONNIE SCHELB, Variety
"American Radical will stimulate discussion about one of the day's most important issues. Surely the sign of a significant film."
PETER KEOUGH, The Boston Phoenix
“...there is much to make any fair minded observer stop and think. The filmmakers achieve this by largely sidestepping the content of Finkelstein's views and focusing on the man why he is the way he is."
BEN HARRIS, JTA
"American Radical is a cautiously respectful documentary portrait of a political firebrand who presents himself as a beacon of moral truth in the murk of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
STEPHEN HOLDEN, The New York Times
JOSHUA ROTHKOPF, Time Out NY
"American Radical…presents a more balanced portrait of Finkelstein."
"A valuable introduction to Finkelstein's complex ideas"
New York Magazine
"A blood-boiling, very good documentary."
MARK KEIZER, Boxoffice Magazine
"A compelling psychological portrait."
BENJAMIN MERCER, The L Magazine
"A well-balanced, important and timely documentary that's provocative and eye-opening regardless of whether or not you agree with Finkelstein's controversial arguments."
AVI OFFER, The NYC Movie Guru
American Radical: the Trials of Norman Finkelstein
Directed by David Ridgen and Nicolas Rossier
Running Time: 84-minutes
Shooting Format: SD and HD video
Exhibition Format: Digital Betacam, color, 4:3 letterboxed
Release Year: 2009
PRESS KIT & PRESS RELEASE
Excerpts FROM THE FILM
STILLS FROM THE FILM
To download a ZIP file that contains all of the stills, CLICK HERE.