Valentino's Ghost (New Edition)
Exposes the ways in which America's foreign policy agenda in the Middle East drives the mainstream media's portrayals of Arabs and Muslims.
Directed by Michael Singh
Produced by Michael Singh, Catherine Jordan
Original Score: Lisa Coleman
Editing: Brad Fuller, Michael Singh, Catherine Jordan
Written by Michael Singh
Narrated by Mike Farrell
Note: The film has a new narration by Mike Farrell and an additional 96 minutes of substantive extras.
"Essential viewing for students of international politics...and anyone who chooses not to be manipulated by mass media." Tamara Sonn, Professor of Humanities, College of William and Mary
Valentino's Ghost takes viewers on a chronological journey through more than a century of images of Muslims, Arabs and Islam in the U.S. media, from the early 20th-century fantasies of romantic sheiks to today's damaging stereotypes as evil fanatics. Through interviews with Robert Fisk, Niall Ferguson, and John Mearsheimer amongst others, the film shows the way in which the changing image of Arabs and Muslims has mirrored America's political agenda in the Middle East.
Valentino's Ghost aims to sharpen viewers' media literacy and increase their skills in questioning media representations, especially those of minority groups and people with whom our government is in conflict. The film ends with a report of a few Hollywood films that have provided complex images and avoided ethnic stereotyping.
Grade Level: 8-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2012
Copyright Date: 2011
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-898-8
"Brilliant. Valentino's Ghost is a crystal-clear distillation of voluminous evidence from movies, televangelism, and network news, documenting the subtle interplay of popular, religious, and political culture. It courageously tackles one of the most controversial issues in America today: U.S. support for Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Featuring preeminent scholars of history, religion, media studies, and politics, it provides a sensitive and nuanced treatment of the distinction between attitudes toward Israeli policies and Jewish people. Valentino's Ghost is essential viewing for students of international politics, those involved in the 'Global War on Terror,' and anyone who chooses not to be manipulated by mass media."
Tamara Sonn, Professor of Humanities, College of William and Mary, Author, Islam: A Brief History,
Interpreting Islam, and Comparing Religions through Law: Judaism and Islam
"You may not agree with every observation in Michael Singh's documentary Valentino's Ghost. But this engrossing examination of American perceptions of Arabs and the Arab world gets you thinking...Valentino's Ghost is an invaluable entry in the national dialogue on the [Middle East]."
Andy Webster, The New York Times
"A crash course in history, politics, and social science, Valentino's Ghost is both sobering and illuminating, and its execution is thrilling."
Ernest Hardy, The Village Voice
"An important and informative teaching tool. Comprehensive in its scope, Valentino's Ghost provides the crucial background to enable viewers to put stereotypical representations of Arabs and Muslims in historical context. Rather than simply cataloguing negative portrayals of Arabs and Muslims in U.S. media, it demonstrates how they are shaped by historical and political forces, revealing them to be cultural artifacts of these same forces."
Amira Jarmakani, Associate Professor, Director, Graduate Studies for the Women's Studies Institute, Georgia State University, Author, Imagining Arab Womanhood: The Cultural Mythology of Veils, Harems, and Belly Dancers in the U.S.
"An extensive, carefully prepared compendium of American media images of the Middle Eastern Islamic world highlighting negative stereotypes of the people of the region...Many U.S. citizens--even those who see themselves as open-minded and non-prejudiced--will come away from this film with a new realization of how badly they have been misled into genteel bigotry in their judgements about this part of the world...I found the film entertaining and enlightening and will recommend it widely."
William Beeman, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, President, Middle Eastern Section of the American Anthropological Association, Author, The Great Satan vs. the Mad Mullahs
"Stunning for its comprehensiveness, Valentino's Ghost is not only a riveting account of the multiple ways in which American media have framed Arabs, Islam, and Muslims over the past century, but an explanation as to why...If you see the need for change and want a place to start, watch this film to develop your tools."
Louise Cainkar, Assistant Professor of Social and Cultural Sciences, Marquette University, Author, Homeland Security: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience after 9/11
"Enormously effective in exposing the U.S. media's long-standing misrepresentations of Arabs and Muslims. Attention-grabbing, accessible, and provocative. Essential and urgent for every classroom and to anyone interested in questioning widely held assumptions. Valentino's Ghost is sure to deepen any discussion about the influence of the U.S. media, anti-Arab racism, and Islamophobia."
Nadine Naber, Associate Professor, American Culture and Women's Studies, University of Michigan, Author, Arab America (forthcoming), Co-editor, Race and Arab Americans and Arab and Arab American Feminisms
"Provides a well-developed history of American politics vis-à-vis Israel since the late 1970s. It addresses the repercussions in relation to Palestine and poses the correct questions about policy and U.S.- Israel relations...Posits well developed ideas about Arab representation and relates them to politics and popular culture. It will promote substantial discussion, which is important for such a significant topic."
Oksana Dykyj, Concordia University, Educational Media Reviews Online
"Valentino's Ghost exposes widespread bigotry and the deliberate shaping of a narrative against Arabs while also providing considerable insights into why American foreign policy continues to fail in an important part of the world. One has to wonder what the reaction would be if the film were to be viewed in the White House."
Philip Giraldi, The American Conservative
"Valentino's Ghost is most interested in the ever-complicated interaction between what happens in the world and what is seen on page and screen. A valuable work that digs well beyond commonplace observations...makes the connection clear: America is only able to make the moral compromises we've made because generations of storytelling have convinced us we're morally superior to a group of people we barely know."
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
"It's a provocative, absorbing--and at times dicey--study...Singh's critical views on Israel and Washington's staunch protection of that country's image will likely set some viewers' teeth on edge."
Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
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Includes 96 minutes of extended interviews with Robert Fisk, Niall Ferguson, John Mearsheimer, Melani McAlister, Stephen Rohde, Alan Sharp and many others, plus 13 clips of comics Ahmed Ahmed, Aron Kader and Maz Jobrani. Plus SDH captioning for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and scene selection.
The Producer's Website
Awards and Festivals
Jury Award, Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival
Venice Film Festival (La Biennale), Italy
International Documentary Film Festival (IDFA), Amsterdam
Doha-Tribeca International Film Festival, Qatar
It's All True Documentary Festival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
International Madrid Documentary Festival, Spain
New York Times' Critics' Pick
Special Jury Award, Bi-National Independent Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival, Stanford
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