The new documentary about Norman Finkelstein has premiered in Chicago and will be available shortly for screenings, purchase and rental. It premiered at the Chicago Underground Film Festival this past weekend. Colleges, universities and other organizations can purchase an Institutional DVD copy (sold with non-paying public performance rights) on Arab Film’s website here. Home Video DVD copies will be for sale in early 2010.
American Radical is the probing documentary portrait of American academic and activist Norman Finkelstein. A devoted son of Holocaust survivors, ardent critic of Israeli and US Mid-East policies, and author of six provocative books, Finkelstein has been at the center of many intractable controversies.Called a lunatic and a self-hating Jew by some and an inspirational, street-fighting revolutionary by others, Finkelstein is a deeply polarizing figure whose struggles arise from core questions about freedom, identity and nationhood. Following him as he presents his message to audiences around the globe, the film provides an intimate portrait of the man behind the controversy, giving voice to Finkelstein’s critics as well as his supporters.
…When Noam Chomsky first suggested to David Ridgen that he work with Finkelstein on a film project, Ridgen quickly became attracted to the idea. Having always been interested in individuals who take bold action, he knew that Finkelstein would make an ideal documentary subject, and he began working on AMERICAN RADICAL in 1997. Director Nicolas Rossier, who had begun putting together his own film about Finkelstein in 2001, joined forces with Ridgen in 2007 and the two have collaborated on AMERICAN RADICAL ever since. Says Rossier, “Some have accused Finkelstein of being a Holocaust denier in order to delegitimize his arguments. We would not have made a film on Finkelstein if we had any doubts on this matter. Norman Finkelstein is wired entirely through the prism of the Holocaust. His apartment is plastered with photos of relatives who were killed in the Nazi death camps.”
…According to John Sinno of Typecast Films, “(the film) not only examines some of the emotional and intellectual underpinnings that have made Professor Finkelstein an uncompromising and controversial figure, but it also provides glimpses of a private and sometimes vulnerable side to Finkelstein that is not experienced by attending his public appearances.”
Those who’ve followed the story of Finkelstein’s ejection from DePaul University for having the temerity to cross swords with Alan Dershowitz; and Finkelstein’s imprisonment by Israel after he attempted to visit his best friend in the West Bank–will be an excited at the prospect of this film, as I am. And before all the haters sharpen their knives, let’s make clear that I am not a whole-hearted supporter or admirer of Norman Finkelstein. But I believe he represents a legitimate, acute voice that needs to be heard concerning the issues that are close to his heart. I don’t see him as always right. But he’s always someone with whose ideas we should grapple.