127: Remembering Robert Fisk


Robert fisk died in october at age. Seventy four after decades of reporting on the middle east filmaker young chang profiles fisk documentary. This is not a movie. And i'm tom powers and this is pure nonfiction. One year before robert fisk died. I interviewed him in young chang at the toronto international film festival for this is not a movie had its world premiere. The film follows fisk from his home base. Beirut as he takes reporting trips to syria in the west bank fisk had an incomparable knowledge of the region that he poured into newspaper columns and books like Pity the nation and the great war for civilization in the film fisk describes. His approach are very fortunate position in journalism in both street reporter. I'm on the frontline of wars. I see the war. But i'm also a columnist. Most columnists live in new york. London paris most reporters can be columnists what. I've had the great good fortune being both at the same time so when i grab a series of articles about say syria i've just come from the syrian. Frontline i'm not recording. What someone said or reporting what. I saw on youtube when i went up. Italy province all my colleagues saying italy battle about to begin but in that whole trap. I didn't see another journalist. See russian journalist. If you don't go to the scene and sniff it and taught to the people and see with your own eyes you cannot get nia what the truth is. Young chain is a chinese canadian filmmaker best known for his films up the yangtze and china heavyweight. Those topics wouldn't lead you to guess that he'd make a film about a middle east correspondent. I started by asking young. What led him to robert fisk. I don't even know what i'm gonna make necks. Usually it's driven by curiosity and this one came about because well a couple of things one of them was. I had been working on an anthology documentary about the. Us elections in twenty sixteen called eleven eight. Sixteen and i was in vermont filming a story about a guy named boots. Were dinky leftist socialist and off the grid type character and it was. It was around nine pm. Boots said this election's over close the shut down the grid and everyone went to sleep and the next morning. I woke up with the flurry of messages from my partner american and she was eight months pregnant and she was. Just you know uncontrollably upset. I had no idea what was going on. Felt like i think for a lot of people. The the election results with trump winning was was devastating for many people and for me it was drove right to the point of what the hell happened. And so fast. Forward to a the national film board of canada or the co producers of the film anita lee the producer alison lou. Check ingmar tross from germany. You know they got in touch and and presented this idea about robert fisk and i knew of his work at followed some of his work back in post september eleventh time and and said wow this this collides with with you know what is happening. Now let's make a film about journalism and this is what this movie is about. So robert p people come to. You asked to make a film about you. Did you have apprehensions about a film. Be no. I don't think that pretensions. I mean i've i've done films before you know i'll jazirah and other people at quite some length three hours with channel four discovery. I was interested to see to see young really and see. What kind of guy was i knew. Obviously he was unfamiliar with the region. And i thought it would be very interesting to see what someone who doesn't know the region would actually make of it and i thought it might be a distinct advantage as opposed to being a disadvantage and the first time he came to lebanon hit. Obviously done a lot of reading. He'd got it pretty right and the best thing and this sounds bad to some of your colleagues is we didn't come to tell me and people in lebanon for example. What he thought was going on. Listen and it was great to find someone who actually serious questions after few minutes. Listen and i listened to people all the time. And i thought this guy fevers countermands. The same grade. Raiders is an arby's iraqi. And i thank god for that. This could be very interesting. What concern me was the last big film i made. I had very bad relationship with director. Great guy but terrible relationship dominating guy i thought i could take a second shift and then i realized after we had dinner together in beirut because fund if we could make it enjoyable and fun to do as opposed to a work has to have deep philosophical background just and he said you know we want to follow you in your work. We won't interfere with them. I let sounds good if i can add. It speaks to roberts character. When i first came to meet you. I it'd be good about is fair. This fair i mean you know the his mammoth kind of credentials. The only western journalist of interviewed osama bin laden three times. I came in and also just knowing what people online kind of the world that circles you. And so i went into this wondering a little nervous. Who's this guy. And and yeah. That was good. And you know actually. He's you quite humorous person. You're quite fun to be around then. I was like oh this could work. We could spend a couple of years making a movie together and that's what it was. That was the experience for me. I may have to imagine daunting thing about. This is just the amount of history that robert has covered the amount of different vents the complexity of any one country that that he's coverages book. Great war for civilization is about that thick and the next one. Even soccer is even thicker. Then that's not a joke in the film. There's a clip where he's in the bookshop six hundred something and now. You're fast

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