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Control Room (2004)

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A documentary on perception of the United States's war with Iraq, with an emphasis on Al Jazeera's coverage.


Jehane Noujaim
9 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Samir Khader ... Himself
Josh Rushing ... Himself (as Lt. Josh Rushing)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
George W. Bush ... Himself (archive footage)
Hassan Ibrahim ... Himself
Deema Khatib Deema Khatib ... Herself
Tom Mintier Tom Mintier ... Himself
Donald Rumsfeld ... Himself (archive footage)
David Shuster ... Himself


A chronicle which provides a rare window into the international perception of the Iraq War, courtesy of Al Jazeera, the Arab world's most popular news outlet. Roundly criticized by Cabinet members and Pentagon officials for reporting with a pro-Iraqi bias, and strongly condemned for frequently airing civilian causalities as well as footage of American POWs, the station has revealed (and continues to show the world) everything about the Iraq War that the Bush administration did not want it to see. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Different channels. Different truths.




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Arabic | English

Release Date:

18 June 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Central Al Jazeera See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$27,125, 23 May 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,586,511, 31 October 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Noujaim Films See more »
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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Hassan Ibrahim: These insensitive Americans roll over everyone to get their way, and what happens to soft-spoken people like me? We get pushed aside.
See more »


Control Room Intro Theme
Written by Kinan Azmeh and Dinuk Wijeratne on a theme by Béla Bartók (as Bartok)
Performed by Kinan Azmeh and Dinuk Wijeratne
Courtesy of Kinan Azmeh and Dinuk Wijeratne
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User Reviews

Rumsfeld's 'truth' may come more from the beleaguered Arab network than the carefully controlled coalition.
17 June 2004 | by jdesandoSee all my reviews

When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declares in the early stages of the Iraq War, ''Truth ultimately finds its way to people's eyes and ears and hearts,'' I knew I would like 'Control Room.' I did feel truth peeking through the eyes of the Al Jazeera Satellite Network war coverage, perhaps the most damning moment coming when the coalition forces attack the Al-Jazeera building and kill a prominent journalist.

Egyptian-born, Harvard-educated director Jehane Noujaim, having worked with D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus on ''Only the Strong Survive'' and ''Startup.com,' is no objective documentarian: She cuts her film to the best advantage of the Arab network as the voice of the Arab oppressed and to the obvious discomfort of the ' occupying' forces, especially the US.

If you factor in her bias and listen to the occasionally reasonable Centcom Press Officer, Lt. Josh Rushing, you may yet believe that Rumsfeld's 'truth' comes more from the beleaguered Arab network than the carefully controlled coalition. But Rushing provides the most truth in the film, for instance, when he confesses, 'Our rule back here is to not spin, but sometimes we catch ourselves doing a little spin on a story. You can't help it.' Lt. Rushing is one of the more interesting characters, at first a central-casting officer spouting the Pentagon message. But when he sees film of suffering and dead American soldiers, he admits, "It makes me hate war." Regardless of which side you're on, most viewers can relate.

When an Arab producer exclaims that the drama unfolding is just like an American movie, where the god guys are easily identifiable, the bad guys will be punished, and the audience wants to know how the ending will be reached, the director mixes fiction and reality in a way that reminds all students of film there cannot be truly unbiased films once someone picks up a camera.

Let 'Control Room' stand tall next to last year's Earl Morris documentary 'Fog of War,' starring a still-sharp and still-deluded Robert McNamara, looking a bit like Donald Rumsfeld. His statement about Al Jazeera, ''We are dealing with people who are willing to lie to the world to make their case,'' is too ironic to be left out of a documentary that makes a liberal criticism of the neocons' great war seem, well, believable.

There are so many secrets and lies in the world political scene today that I am reminded of Joseph Conrad's Marlow in 'Heart of Darkness,' who said there was 'a flavor of mortality in lies, -- which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world -- what I want to forget.' The official body count in Iraq may be mute testimony to the legacy of lies. Like the 9/11 Commission report on the lack of connection between Iraq and al Quaida, 'Control Room' tries to balance the scales before Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11' upsets it even more.

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