We just posted a fast paced, right to the point trailer, so you can get
the thrust of the plot of The Last War Crime movie in just 60 seconds. To
find out if our heroine was successful in her mission, you will have to
actually watch the movie.
Writer/Director Pen just did an extensive interview on the fight back against censorship of the The Last War Crime Movie which was featured as their top story on OpEdNews.com, one of the premier outlets of progressive news and opinion.
Remember when the former VP was always in some secret, undisclosed location? This is a bona fide offer to send Dick Cheney on vacation trip to sunny Spain.
The offer includes a ONE WAY coach class plane ticket on the commercial airline of our choice to take Dick Cheney from Washington, DC, to Madrid, Spain, on a date to be selected by him with 30 days advance notice to us. Ticket must be claimed by Dick Cheney in person at the airline counter on flight check in and used for that purpose. We will also pay for one week of the basic room charge for a hostel style accommodation of our choice in Madrid. No other expenses are included.
[Reprinted courtesy of OpEdNews.com, headlined 12/9/2013]
A Free Speech David Takes On Goliath About "The Last War Crime" Movie
Interview by Joan Brunwasser
My guest today is The PEN, activist and policy advocate. Welcome back to OpEdNews, PEN.
JB: When we spoke back in January, 2012, we discussed The Last War Crime, the film you made about indicting Dick Cheney for torture. There are many people who are not aware of your film's existence, let alone its contents. Can you fill us in?
PEN: Sure, so nice speaking with you again, Joan. As usual, you are right on top of things. At that point, we were working hard literally around the clock to finish up the post production for the movie. And we didn't stop. And we are just now at a point where we are ready to make available a limited edition of what people call a "screener" DVD. Our plan at this point is to empower people to organize their own home and community screenings, and to get word out about the completion of this project that way. If someone wants to obtain a copy of the screener, we are asking them to commit to doing such a local screening, and they can do so at this link.
Our goal for the The Last War Crime film project was, in the first instance, to tell the true story of how we were misled into an attack and invasion of Iraq, which now even the neocons have been forced to admit has been a strategic catastrophe. But they have also tried to revise history as if they could not have known that the intelligence was bad, when in fact they knew (or should have known) all along that the intelligence and war sales pitch were garbage (a polite word). And how could they have known that? Because they got that "intelligence" from torturing people, notorious throughout history for being used to obtain false confessions.
So, the first third of the film recreates in docudrama style the historical events from the morning of 9/11 to the Colin Powell UN speech. But we also wanted to imagine what it would have been like if some courageous U.S. attorney had uncovered evidence of the war crimes committed by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, and done something to hold people accountable while they were still in office. This is not that farfetched if you remember the U.S. attorney firings and the scandal about that because they would not politicize their jobs.
JB: Yes, I remember that well.
PEN: And the rest of the film tells an entertaining dramatic story around such a fictional vision. Call it a political fantasy fulfillment film if you like.
When we last spoke about the progress of the getting out word of The Last War Crime film, we talked about how YouTube had banned one of our preview clips, for completely bogus reasons, and how MTV/Viacom had refused to run an ad for the movie on their Times Square jumbotron. Despite over 12,000 protest messages we were able to mobilize about that, Viacom just ignored us and I had suggested to you that we were considering some kind of federal lawsuit as a recourse.
Not surprisingly, defendants' counsel, one of the top 50 law firms in the country, quickly filed an obligatory motion to dismiss, which I think we brushed aside quite effectively with the opposition we filed. The way these court procedures work: the side that files a motion has a automatic opportunity to file a reply to our opposition, but they are not supposed to bring up new issues in that reply, that we would not have had a fair chance to respond to in writing. But, fearing they were losing the argument we think, that's exactly what the other side tried to do, even to the point of making, in our view, serious misrepresentations about the contents of legal precedents.
We hit the law library again and researched what the appropriate legal reaction should be in such a situation, and then filed our own motion to ask permission to file what is called a surreply, a rare procedural remedy that the Court has discretion to grant or not, and which is generally not favored. Defendants opposed our surreply request motion, we exercised our right to reply to that, and that last filing took us to the end of January, earlier this year.
JB: Don't leave us in suspense, PEN. Then what happened?
PEN: Well, after that, nothing happened for months. The case just sat on the bench of the assigned judge with no dispositive action by the Court. Because of the caseload in the DC federal court, which handles the most important questions of federal jurisdiction, this is not unusual for cases being given serious consideration. If our core claims were not meritorious, the Court early on could have easily just dittoed the text of defendants' motion to dismiss, and that happens too.
About five months ago, there was an entry in the docket that our case had been reassigned to a senior judge in the district, kicked upstairs so to speak. This is the same judge who has been handling the 2 billion dollar lawsuit filed by Bank of America against the FDIC. This is big time litigation land. But still no action was taken on the merits in our case.
Then last week, we got notice that our motion requesting permission to file that surreply had been GRANTED. This in and of itself does not prove that we will prevail on the substance of our complaint, but we believe it strongly suggests that the Court is taking our arguments very seriously, and at least in this one matter granted for us a motion despite the opposition of the other side.
JB: So that's definitely encouraging news. What else?
PEN: I might mention that this is not the first lawsuit we have been forced to file related to The Last War Crime movie. Also after we last talked we had a problem getting permission to use in the film some extraordinary pictures taken by the NYPD helicopter photographic unit on the morning of 9/11. Because all news copters were excluded from being within 5 miles of lower Manhattan that morning, only the NYPD photographer was in a position to take some stunning close-in photos of the huge clouds of dust and smoke enveloping 50 and 60 story buildings in the aftermath of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. And we wanted to use these pictures as a dramatic photo montage in The Last War Crime movie. Almost nobody knew these historically significant photos even existed, but we found them by exhaustively going through the multi-terabyte NIST database, which had collected anything and everything related to these events.
The NYPD tried to blow off our request for use of the pictures in a way that was clearly arbitrary in our view, so we researched how to challenge an administrative decision in New York City. In that case we filed an Article 78 petition, which we determined was the correct remedy. We heard back from New York City's intellectual property attorney. Yes, they actually have someone dedicated for that. He told us, in a very nice way actually, that if he wanted to he could run us around back and forth in court for years. We told him equally nicely that he would find us to be very intellectually stimulating running partners.
PEN: We suspect he was astonished at some of the obscure legal citations we were able to find supporting our petition. And the NYPD pretty much surrendered immediately. And the pictures are in the film now.
JB: Good work!
PEN: But the big deal is the federal lawsuit. It's no secret to us that many, many people, especially progressives, have had their political policy related ads censored in the past.
JB: Agreed. In 2005, there was a similar incident when an ad was submitted to WHYY, the National Public Radio station in Philadelphia. It was for Mark Crispin Miller's book, Fooled Again , about the stolen presidential election of 2004. Suddenly, the book was too - that word again - "controversial" and the ad was rejected.
PEN: Wow, when a national public radio station is rejecting ads for political reasons, that is a full blown crisis of democracy! We ourselves have experienced this multiple times just around this one film, and it is still going on all the time. We are asking the federal judge to CHANGE the law on First Amendment grounds, and we have two independent arguments of first impression we are presenting, either of which would create a new precedent binding nationwide. If we prevail on any level, we believe it will fundamentally change the playing field related to political advertising.
The last time we spoke about the forces trying to suppress promotion of The Last War Crime movie, I told you, "If there is a path to get the movie out, it must be directly through the biggest obstacle someone puts in our way." And this is precisely what we are doing now.
JB: So, let me make sure I understand the process. In essence, you're doing an end-run around the usual movie distribution routes by going for home and group viewing. That's good. What about doing something similar to what Robert Reich and Jake Kornbluth did with their recent independent film, Inequality for All ? They rented out theaters in a number of cities for showings and then will release the film soon on Netflix. Would something like that work for you?
PEN: We actually have something like that going on too. Over a thousand people have already requested advance tickets, and we have already had such screenings in Los Angeles and San Francisco. We see no reason why this film should not have a real theatrical run. But for people to really show up in droves, or rent and buy The Last War Crime movie like crazy, as we know they will, first we seriously need to get the word out about the film. And that is of course why the corporate media is trying to block our advertising, because they have a political agenda in not seeing that happen. Frankly, we think their censorship is going to backfire. Watch what kind of attention this project gets when we establish a major new free speech legal case precedent.
JB: That legal precedent would be nothing short of fabulous for all of us. Anything to add before we wrap this up?
PEN: It's taken us over two years to complete post production on the film, something way over 5,000 man hours, to get everything polished the way we always wanted. But now the stars are aligning for this project, and we can't wait to get cranking on the next one. And all our people need to do at this point is just pick up a screener and show it to their friends, and make it the movie of that week for their movie night of their community group, and have those people do the same thing, and we can bulldoze all the prejudicial policy barriers the corporate media has put in our way. And once these barriers are down, so many others will be empowered to do the same thing.
JB: A veritable snowball, gathering speed as it heads downhill! Good luck on this project, PEN. Please keep us in the loop. I can't wait to see The Last War Crime. I always feel so inspired when I talk with you. Thanks so much.
PEN: We love you all at OpEdNews!
JB: Thanks! The feeling is definitely mutual. Okay folks, time to click on that link and arrange a movie night with your friends and neighbors. Let's start that ball rolling!
Friends of The Last War Crime:
"The Last War Crime"
A new feature film written and directed by The Pen
Email The Pen