Toronto 2019: This Is Not a Movie

Robert Fisk and Antony Lowenstein in Jerusalem (2018) in This Is Not a Movie. Courtesy of TINAM Inc./Sutor Kolonko/National Film Board of Canada.

This Is Not a Movie follows journalist Robert Fisk in his quest to seek the truth in war zones–especially within the Middle East.

The Middle East is home to many of the world’s international conflicts.  Filmmaker Yung Chang follows British journalist Robert Fisk on the ground while he’s hard at work.  Fisk has been doing this for forty years.  As one can imagine, it’s not always easy getting the pertinent facts when there’s a war going on.  While government officials will paint one picture, what we can see on the ground paints an entirely different picture altogether.  Suffice it to say, it can get pretty messy.

During one segment in Israel, an interview subject and Fisk are discussing Judea-Samaria.  This makes for some rather fascinating conversation.  The person questions whether Palestinians have any actual right to the land.  He gets into the history of the land and notes that surrounding Arab countries want nothing to do with the Palestinians.  Moreover, he questions Fisk about his views on Israel.  Fisk tells him that he accepts the existence of Israel but feels that the current situation is taking the country into dangerous waters.  Of all the conflicts in the Middle East, the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the one that will open up a can of worms.

Journalism means getting down to the truth of the story.  Sometimes, it could mean hearing news that will just break your heart.  Absolutely devastating in some instances.  The fact of the matter is that journalists have to tell it like it is.  Moreover, there’s a changing landscape thanks to digital media.  How does this factor into Fisk’s job performance?  Why is it that a British journalist wants to work in the Middle East?  This is but just one of the many questions that get answered while watching the film.  It’s not just drinking tea!

This Is Not a Movie isn’t the only film to tackle journalism.  Collective just held its North American premiere over the weekend.  In their own way, both films stress the importance of journalism.  In the case of the former, it’s the investigative aspect that can bring down government officials or CEOs.  With regards to This Is Not a Movie, it’s about getting down to the truth of what happens in a war zone.  Of course, this also comes at a time when the American president declares the free press to as an enemy of the people.  This in and of itself is not right no matter how you look at it.

DIRECTOR:  Yung Chang
FEATURING:  Robert Fisk

This Is Not a Movie holds its world premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in the TIFF Docs program. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.