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