RIFF Movies Archive

American Zeitgeist



United States, 2005, DV - Color - 120

DIRECTED BY:
Rob McGann

SCREENPLAY:
Rob McGann

PRODUCER:
Rob McGann, Aaron Blasius

STORY DESCRIPTION:

Before the United States entered the crossfire of war and nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq, and suicide bombs poured flames across the skylines of London, Beslan, Madrid, Istanbul, Bali and downtown Manhattan, there was an optimistic moment at the turn of the millennium, when almost anything seemed possible.But with the War on Terrorism entering its fifth year, that pre-9/11 spirit already seems a long way behind us. As the public relations disaster of the Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay prison scandals roil throughout the Muslim world, regular images of beheadings of Americans and civilian contractors by a committed insurgency offer chilling evidence of the hatred provoked by U.S. foreign policy in recent years. American soldiers—and twenty times the number of Iraqis—are dying every week in lands where they are seen as occupiers. Meanwhile, only the barest roots of democracy have taken hold in the rattled capitals of Baghdad and Kabul.As Al Qaeda threatens to rear its Hydra head within our borders at some indistinct time, an alarming amount remains unclear about the extent of the dangers we are facing. Rumors of Osama bin Laden’s imminent death or capture waft intermittently through the media, while fear of intifada-style attacks are an unspoken tension on subways in every major city.In one of the most divided periods in U.S. history, questions of American empire and unilateralism are being levied abroad by friend and foe alike through the splintered lens of the War on Terrorism. What began as a widely supported effort to protect American lives has led us to an uncertain crossroads, more alone now than we have ever been.
DIRECTOR BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE:

American Zeitgeist is the second feature-length documentary directed and produced by Rob McGann. His first film, Oracles & Demons of Ladakh, which Variety described in a November 2003 review as “superb,” examines shamanic practices in a remote enclave of the Tibetan Himalayas. The 71-minute film screened at the 22nd annual Vancouver International Film Festival and the Tiburon International Film Festival in 2003; and was rated among the best documentaries screened at the Memphis International Film Festival that same year. The movie was acquired by distributor Janson Media in March 2004 and is currently being considered for U.S. and international broadcast/DVD distribution in 2005. In addition to documentary filmmaking, Rob has written for a variety of New York City publications and websites over the last seven years. Originally hailing from Springfield, IL, he holds an M.A. in Journalism & Mass Communications from New York University and a B.A. in English from Northwestern University.

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