CPB Media Room

CPB Announces "America at a Crossroads" Production Grants; WETA to be the Presenting Station

  • January 30, 2006

Initiative to Examine Challenges and Opportunities facing America and the World since 9/11

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) today announced that 20 documentary films have been selected to receive production funding under its "America at a Crossroads" initiative. The Corporation also announced that WETA, the leading public broadcaster in Washington D.C., has been selected as the presenting station for the initial eight programs in the series.

Collectively, the "Crossroads" documentaries focus on the challenges and opportunities America and the world face in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Individually, the films -- each approximately an hour in length -- will examine a host of topics, including: the international struggle for the heart of Islam; the competing demands of security and civil liberties; America's international role and image abroad; how the American military is adapting to the war on terror; and the so-called "Bush Doctrine."

"'America at a Crossroads' is a series of documentaries that illuminate the changes that have taken place in America and the world since 9/11," said CPB President and CEO Patricia Harrison. "I am delighted that WETA has agreed to be the presenting station for the initial eight films in the series, which will begin to air in the spring of 2007." Included in the eight films that WETA will be presenting are: The Transatlantic Paradox (Anti-Americanism Abroad); Holy War; Inside the American Empire with Robert Kaplan; Inside the Muslim Brotherhood; Islam vs. Islamists; The Case for War; and Arab Music: Dissonance and Harmony.

The 20 "Crossroads" films chosen for production funding were competitively selected from about 440 proposals submitted to CPB by producers around the world in June 2004. The proposals underwent a rigorous review and selection process that drew heavily on the expertise and advice of an array of foreign, security and civil liberties specialists, including expert readers and a distinguished advisory board whose members include senior policy makers from the past four administrations.

"'America at a Crossroads' will represent some of the finest film-making talent as well as some voices new to public television," said Michael Pack, CPB's Senior Vice President for Television Programming. "Great care has been taken to ensure the films will satisfy the highest professional standards of broadcast journalism."

America at a Crossroads Awardees for Production Grants

Campus Battleground (Peter Collier, Argus Productions, Nevada City and William Free and Bill Jersey, Quest Productions, Berkeley) will examine the impact of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on university campuses in America after 9-11. It will document the daily efforts of students to advance their views through the intellectual and political minefields of a war half a world away.

The Case for War (Phil Craig and Brian Lapping, Brook Lapping Productions, London) will follow former Defense Department Assistant Secretary in the Reagan Administration, Richard Perle, to various places around the world as he articulates the neoconservative case for an assertive American foreign policy, interventionist when necessary, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Citizen Soldiers (Calvin Skaggs, Lumiere Productions, New York) will explore the ways in which the war on terror has stretched the U.S. military and required Army reservists to be called into active duty for extended tours of service. The film will follow members of an Army Reserve unit through its deployment to examine the demands on US armed forces and consider the need for change.

Arab Music: Dissonance and Harmony (Miles Copeland and Jonathan Brandeis, Firstars, Hollywood) will chronicle the journey a diverse group of Arab musicians will make from their own distinct homelands all the way to the American Heartland for an unprecedented concert tour. Once here, they will be joined by leading American musicians, and the film will likely be co-broadcast in the U.S. and several Middle East countries.

Holy War (William Cran, Clive Syddall and Adam Lively of PITV, London) examine, through a television history, modern, radical, Islamic groups, the ideas and the beliefs that inspire them and the challenge they present to governments in the Middle East and the West.

Homegrown (Ginny Durrin, Durrin Productions, Washington, D.C.) will explore the growing allure of religion in U.S. prisons since the September 11th attacks. The film will explore how the war on terror has transformed the prison population, and how this affects inmates' behavior after they are released into the community.

Indonesia: Battleground for the Soul of Islam (Calvin Sims and Kenneth Levis, The New York Times, New York) will explore Indonesia's long history of moderation in its practice of Islam and show how Islamist radicals have made the country a flash point in the global war on terror. The filmmakers will get an inside look at how this fledgling democracy, with its moderate Muslim majority, is struggling to control the rise of religious extremism. The proposed film will show how Islam in Indonesia is markedly different from that in the Middle East. What emerges is a potential model for Muslim democracy, if Indonesia can succeed in containing the terrorist threat.

Inside the American Empire with Robert Kaplan (WETA, Washington, D.C. and 3BM Productions, London) will feature Atlantic Monthly correspondent Robert Kaplan as he travels with U.S. troops who are fighting the war on terror in ways and places unknown to many Americans. Kaplan will travel with the troops as they engage in small-scale, low-intensity conflicts that go largely unreported. He will show how the U.S. military has taken on new humanitarian and intelligence-gathering functions as part of the war on terror.

Invasion! (Timothy Smith and Brian Berger, Docere Palace Studios, LLP, New York, in association with Granada America, New York, and the Washington Post Company, Washington, D.C.) will examine the art and strategy of military invasion and occupation by looking at historical and contemporary examples of successes and failures with emphasis on the strategies likely to be effective in a post-9/11 world.

Islam vs. Islamists (Martyn Burke, Frank Gaffney and Alex Alexiev, ABG Films Inc., Los Angeles) will explore how Islamic extremists are at war with moderates in their own faith, and how the consequences of their aggressive behavior are threatening many centrist Muslims in the west. The filmmakers will follow the stories of several moderate Muslims in North America and Europe who are struggling to maintain democratic values in the face of threats and intimidation from the extremists.

The Mosque in Morgantown (Brittany Huckabee of Boston) will chronicle the unfolding drama within a Muslim community in small-town West Virginia. The verite-style documentary will follow Asra Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal correspondent, as she pushes for change at the mosque her father helped to found three decades ago. It will also tell the stories of other mosque members, in their own words, as they work to determine the shape of their religious community.

Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (Richard Robbins and Tom Yellin, PJ Productions, New York and WETA, Washington, D.C.) will bring to the screen the writing of American troops who have served the nation on the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan. The writings -- fiction, verse, and letters, essays, memoirs, and personal journals -- are being solicited and collected as part of the National Endowment for the Arts' program, Operation Homecoming.

STAND UP: Muslim-American Comics Come of Age (Glenn Baker, Azimuth Media, Washington, D.C.) will explore the emergence of Muslim- and Arab-American comedians after 9/11, showing how they use humor to take on stereotypes about Middle Easterners and terrorism. The proposed film will chronicle their humor and the way it is shaped by the everyday tribulations of their lives.

Security Versus Liberty: The Other War (Jennifer Lawson , WHUT, Washington, D.C. and Lisa Zeff, ABC News Productions, New York) will examine the tensions and trade-offs between security and liberty in the post-9/11 world by following several characters enmeshed in the controversy.

Spain's 9/11 (David Alter and Phil Craig, Brook Lapping Productions, London and Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin, the Aspen Institute, Berlin) will examine the two weeks following the train bombing in Madrid commonly referred to as "Spain's 9/11" as described by those closest to the action including former President Jose Aznar. The film will detail how the bombing caused some in Europe to reassess their relations with America, and revealed evidence of the terrorists wider aims. The Terror Dilemma (Steve Hewlett, MSRM Productions, Washington, D.C. and London) will feature Newsweek's award winning investigative reporters Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball as they follow the terrorist money trail and uncover how extremists have used, and in some cases, abused legitimate Muslim political and charitable groups to finance the spread of Jihad around the globe. The team will explore the dilemmas -- and frequent missteps -- of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials as they seek to distinguish criminal activity from legitimate religious and political expression. The team will use classified documents and meet with sources in both the West and the Islamic world as they show how terrorists seek to expand their global operations.

The Transatlantic Paradox (Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker, Center for New American Media, New York) will explore European anti-American sentiment over the past 200 years with an emphasis on contemporary attitudes. The sometimes satiric look will examine the perceptions and misperceptions of some of Europe's leading political, cultural, intellectual and media figures as well as ordinary citizens.

The Trial of Saddam Hussein (Daniel Polin and Kenneth Mandel, Great Projects Film Company, New York) will show what's really going on at the trial of Iraq's former president. Covered superficially by the news media, the trial seems to be about Saddam's behavior, rather than the systematic presentation of evidence of crimes by Saddam Hussein's regime and its profound effect on the Iraqi people.

The Trouble with Islam (Gordon Henderson, 90th Parallel Films and Television Productions LTD, Ontario, Canada and The National Film Board of Canada) will feature the internationally best-selling author Irshad Manji, who observes that Islam, under which the world's most learned and accomplished societies once flourished, closed the door on critical thinking at the end of the 11th century. Manji will meet fellow Muslims in the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and Yemen who are trying to open those doors.

Warriors (Karl Zinsmeister; The American Enterprise magazine; Ed Robbins) will profile a cross-section of men and women serving in America's all-volunteer Army, from private to general. Combining intimate profiles with engrossing observation of combat operations, both filmed in war zones of Iraq, the program finds that, contrary to conventional wisdom, our military is not predominantly populated by the poor and uneducated, but attracts a wide range of competent citizens, many of them surprisingly motivated by idealism.

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The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

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