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Shadows of Liberty

Uses shocking examples of cover-ups and censorship by the US media to show how a few mega corporations exercise control over the content of our news.

A printer-friendly version of this page 93 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Jean-Philippe Tremblay
Produced by Jean-Philippe Tremblay
Executive Producers: Docfactory
Co-Producer/Co-Writer: Dan Cantagallo
Director of Photography: Arthur Jafa
Editor: Gregers Sall
Music: Tandis Jenhudson

"A brilliant, riveting and deeply disturbing insight into corporate control of American media and American public opinion." Geoffrey R. Stone, Professor of Law, University of Chicago
[Note: Community screenings of SHADOWS OF LIBERTY can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]

Note: There are two versions of this program on the same DVD: 93-minutes and 53-minutes.

SHADOWS OF LIBERTY examines how the US media are controlled by a handful of corporations exercising extraordinary political, social, and economic power. Having always allowed broadcasting to be controlled by commercial interests, the loosening of media ownership regulations, that began under Reagan and continued under Clinton, has led to the current situation where five mega corporations control the vast majority of the media in the United States. These companies not only don't prioritize investigative journalism, but can and do clamp down on it when their interests are threatened.

The film begins with three journalists whose careers were destroyed because of the stories they broke: Roberta Baskin, whose scoop about Nike sweatshops didn't sit well with CBS when Nike became a co-sponsor of the Olympics; Kristina Borjesson, another CBS reporter, whose job lasted precisely one week after the network spiked her investigation into the TWA Flight 800 disaster in 1996; and Gary Webb, whose story linking US support for Nicaraguan Contras and the epidemic in crack cocaine was trashed by The New York Times and the Washington Post. (His story was true, but Webb lost his job and eventually killed himself.)

With the help of interviewees including Daniel Ellsburg, Dan Rather, Julian Assange, Chris Hedges, Dick Gregory, Robert McChesney, John Nichols and Amy Goodman, the film explores in depth the monopolies and vested interests that filter the dissemination of information thus damaging the democratic process. One notorious example, featured in the film, of the anti-democratic nexus between the military-industrial complex and the news media was the latter's unquestioning acceptance of the former's trumped up justification for the Iraq War.

With profits taking priority over the truth and the powerful being taken at their word rather than taken to task, the film asks whether the Internet can withstand corporate pressure and remain free, or will it too fall into the hands of monopolistic corporations.

Ultimately has our commercial world caused us to lose one of the most precious commodities of all--unbiased information?

Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2013     Copyright Date: 2012
DVD ISBN: 1-93777-257-8

"In an era where there is a need for academics to transform #fakenews to a conceptualized, academic term...Shadows of Liberty is an increasingly timely expose regarding corporate America's influence on public opinion...It provides an alternative, accessible viewpoint to students who interact with mass media daily...Suitable in courses focused on mass media, sociology of education, political sociology, or social problems."
Monica Klonowski, Teaching Sociology

"Shadows of Liberty offers a brilliant, riveting and deeply disturbing insight into corporate control of American media and American public opinion. It is a clarion call to citizens to take back the First Amendment before it is lost to them forever."
Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago, Author, Speaking Out! Reflections on Law, Liberty and Justice

"Shadows of Liberty offers a trenchant critique of our media system, effectively highlighting how and why corporate consolidation of media undermines democracy. Featuring the voices of our most wise and compelling media analysts, the film is a clarion call for media reform to create a media system that promotes citizenship and substantive journalism rather than corporate profits and infotainment."
William Hoynes, Professor of Sociology and Media Studies, Vassar College, Author, Public Television for Sale, Co-Author, The Business of Media: Corporate Media and the Public Interest

"The film paints a chilling portrait of how the contemporary press functions and why we, as a society seeking to be properly informed, should be justifiably troubled."
Brett Marchant, Library Journal

"After watching this film, you might think the greatest threat to free speech today is the media itself. Shadows of Liberty takes a critical look at the modern media landscape. Jean-Philippe Tremblay dissects the media's coverage of some of the biggest events in recent history. He tells the stories behind the big stories and contributes to a meaningful discussion of important public issues and the role of the media in this discussion."
Roy S. Gutterman, Director, Tully Center for Free Speech, Associate Professor, Communications Law and Journalism, Syracuse University

"The stakes for the free flow of information have never been higher, so this documentary - which is likely to raise blood pressure and spark heated discussions - is recommended."
Video Librarian

"A sober look at today's very precarious situation...Highly recommended especially for public and school library collections."
The Midwest Book Review

"Were it not for films like Shadows of Liberty, the public would be oblivious to who actually controls the mass media...An impressive cast of media analysts and activists illuminate the dangers of media monopolies and their impact on the press...Highly recommended for all libraries, Shadows of Liberty is thought-provoking resource for business, journalism, and social science courses."
Margaret M. Reed, Ouachita Baptist University, Educational Media Reviews Online

"The timing couldn't be better for a theatrical documentary about a corporate media monopoly in American journalism."
Etan Vlessing, Hollywood Reporter

"An excellent exposé of the corporatisation of the American media, and perhaps the very best of the [Leed's International] festival in toto. Frightening, enlightening, anger-inducing, thrilling, this debut from writer/director Jean-Philippe Tremblay ticks the boxes for what every great political doc should be...Stories of corporate greed winning out over media values are hand-over-mouth shocking, told with clarity and focus."
Brogan Morris, Neil Young's Film Lounge

"Deals with one of the most critical issues of today...A masterpiece of craftsmanship."
Jakub Patocka, Denik Referebdum

"A slick, masterful political essay on the degradation of contemporary journalism...Rises above its contemporary counterparts by concentrating on convincing and compelling evidence."
Ezra Winton, Art Threat

"A pull-no-punches kind of film."
Post City Magazine

"A documentary indictment of America's media echo chamber...Artistry, cinematic or otherwise, and clear-eyed political vision rarely come this close together. Shadows of Liberty as a film, and Jean Philippe Tremblay as auteur are both definitely newsworthy. Stay tuned."
Humberto DaSilva,

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DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
Includes the original 93-minute version and a 53-minute classroom version of the film, plus SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and scene selection.

The Film's Website
Host a community screening

Awards and Festivals
IDFA, International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam
HotDocs, Canadian International Documentary Film Festival
Sheffield Doc/Fest
Open City Docs Fest
Bergen International Film Festival
Canberra International Film Festival
Leeds International Film Festival
London International Documentary Festival
Vancouver International Film Festival
Documentary Edge Festival

American Democracy
American Studies
Asian Studies
Business Practices
Central America/The Caribbean
Child Labor
Foreign Policy

Human Rights
Labor and Work Issues
Media Literacy
National Security
Political Science
Social Justice
War and Peace

Related Titles

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A brilliant visual essay about the costs, benefits and history of the vast, invisible world of government secrecy.

30 Frames a Second: The WTO in Seattle
Photojournalist's personal odyssey through the streets of Seattle during the WTO meeting.

Torturing Democracy
Tells the inside story of how the U.S. government adopted torture as official policy in the aftermath of 9/11.

A Tribe of His Own
Indian journalist reminds us of the meaning of responsible journalism.

A seven-part series that gives context and perspective to events since the 2000 presidential elections and 9/11.

... more Reviews

"Meticulous and cutting...A tremendous cast of commentators illustrate the problem...Well made, beautifully filmed and fulfilled."
Adam Donaldson, Press Plus

"Scathing media takedown...Tremblay marshalls a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that government deregulation has paved the way for the perversion of the media's newsgathering function."
Julian Carrington, Torontoist

"Excellent...Provides a diverse selection of case studies to show just how deep the rabbit hole goes."
Left Lion

"Relevant stuff about the mass sell-off of journalistic integrity in our time."
Liz Braun, Toronto Sun

"Corporate Media - not the best thing on Earth...The film is extremely well made (great soundtrack), with seemingly unlimited resources to archival footage and impressive personalities."
The Panic Manuel

"Audiences have come to see it in droves...A well-told warning about the power of multinational media conglomerates."
Fraser Mills, Film Army

"All Americans should be concerned - if only the media would allow them to be...Shadows of Liberty seems destined to remain a film one must seek out. Those who do will be rewarded."
The Wig

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