“America at a Crossroads” is a major public television event premiering on PBS in April 2007 that explores the challenges confronting the world post 9/11 — including the war on terrorism; the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; the experience of American troops; the struggle for balance within the Islamic world and Muslim life in America; and perspectives on America’s role in the world. The series of 11 documentaries, hosted by journalist Robert MacNeil, is scheduled to launch on Sunday, April 15 and will run through Friday, April 20, 9 – 11 p.m. (ET). Additional films will air as specials following the premiere.
An extensive media and outreach campaign in more than 25 cities accompanies the series — creating a national dialogue that includes screenings and discussions with U.S. military personnel, leading policy experts and leaders of the Muslim American community; an integrated Web presence; and educational initiatives.
April Broadcast Program Descriptions
(Note: All times are subject to change.)
JIHAD: The Men and Ideas behind Al Qaeda
Executive producer: Clive Syddall, Paladin Invision
Producer: Bill Cran
Airdate: April 15, 2007 at 9 p.m. Check local listings.
Providing an in-depth look at modern, radical Islamic groups, JIHAD: The Men and Ideas Behind Al Qaeda explores the ideas and beliefs that inspire them, along with the challenges they pose for governments in the Middle East and the West. From the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1940s to Islamic organizations today, the film offers insightful perspectives of Islam from Western and Middle Eastern journalists, U.S. intelligence experts on the frontlines of the fight against Al Qaeda, and friends and contemporaries of Osama bin Laden and his lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Producers: Karl Zinsmeister and Ann Zinsmeister
Director and Writer: Ed Robbins
Airdate: April 16, 2007 at 9 p.m. Check local listings.
Warriors profiles a handful of Army soldiers filmed during the Spring and Fall of 2005 in some of the most dangerous areas in and around Baghdad. Their stories are revealed through intimate snapshots as they face the daily complexities and personal risks of the war in Iraq. Warriors opens a compelling, harrowing and at times humorous window on some less familiar sides of a soldier’s daily life: a look at who they are, what they do and why.
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
Executive producer: Tom Yellin, The Documentary Group
Producer: Richard Robbins
Airdate: April 16, 2007 at 10 p.m. Check local listings.
A documentary explores the searing firsthand accounts of American troops through their own words — fiction, verse, letters, essays and personal journals. The film is based on the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) initiative by the same name, which was a series of writing workshops conducted by distinguished authors at domestic and overseas military installations. Combining interviews and dramatic readings, the film transforms this remarkable collection of writing into a deep examination of life on the front lines. The film provides depth and context for these experiences through conversations with great American writers from previous wars, including Tim O’Brien and James Salter. The stories recounted are sad, funny, violent and uplifting. The writings come to life with readings by Josh Lucas, Aaron Eckhart, Blair Underwood and others. Operation Homecoming evokes the universal emotions of war with a haunting poignancy and raw emotion.
Gangs of Iraq
Executive producer: Sherry Jones, Washington Media Associates and David Fanning, WGBH
Producer: Marcela Gaviria, RAIN Media
Airdate: April 17, 2007 at 9 p.m. Check local listings.
Day after day scores of bodies litter the streets of Baghdad. To staunch the violence, the U.S. has poured billions into standing up Iraq's security forces. FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith takes a hard look at how the four-year training effort has fared and how these forces have themselves been infiltrated by various sectarian militias. It remains to be seen if America can build a truly national Iraqi army and police in the midst of a civil war.
The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom
Executive producers: Phil Craig, Brook Lapping Productions
Producer: Mick Gold
Airdate: April 17, 2007 at 10 p.m. Check local listings.
With debate over the war in Iraq reaching a fever pitch, The Case For War: In Defense of Freedom follows one of the advocates of the war against Saddam Hussein. Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle travels the globe articulating, defending and debating the neoconservative case for an assertive American foreign policy. Perle finds no shortage of candidates willing to challenge him on the issue, including the wife of a soldier serving in Iraq and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke.
Executive producer: Phil Craig, Brook Lapping Productions
Producer: David Alter
Airdate: April 18, 2007 at 9p.m. Check local listings.
Europe’s 9/11 explores in-depth the phenomenon of homegrown terrorism, examining the bombings in Madrid, Spain and the connections between those bombers and Al Qaeda cell activities in Milan, Italy and the Van Gogh murder in the Netherlands. Interviews with key officials and intelligence agencies highlight the difficulties governments face in identifying potential terrorists among radical Islamists and in protecting citizens from these internal threats.
The Muslim Americans
Executive producer: Susan Mills, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions
Producer: Ricki Green
Airdate: April 18, 2007 at 10 p.m. Check local listings.
The film is an exploration of the diversity of Muslims in America today, focusing on communities’ experience after 9/11 and contrasting life for Muslims in the United States with those in Britain and Europe. Produced in conjunction with The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer — including NewsHour correspondents Ray Suarez, Judy Woodruff, Spencer Michels and Fred de Sam Lazaro, and with an opening and closing by Robert MacNeil — the film looks at the ongoing conversation American Muslims are having about life in the United States, including assimilation, discrimination, Muslim youth, religion and politics.
Faith Without Fear
Executive producer: Gordon Henderson, 90th Parallel Films and Television LTD
Producer: Ian McLeod
Airdate: April 19, 2007 at 9 p.m. Check local listings.
In Faith Without Fear, Muslim dissident Irshad Manji is on a journey to help restore humanity and reason to Islam. Inspired by the Quran, Irshad asks, “How has a religion of justice become mired in fear?” Trekking through Yemen, Europe and North America, she discovers that Islamic faith can be reconciled with individual freedom — if Muslims have the courage to change. Along the way, Irshad is changed by one of her fiercest Muslim critics. But the biggest epiphany of all comes from her pious mom . . . .
Struggle for the Soul of Islam: Inside Indonesia
Executive producer: Ann Derry, New York Times Television
Producers: Ken Levis and Calvin Sims
Airdate: April 19, 2007 at 10 p.m. Check local listings.
Struggle for the Soul of Islam: Inside Indonesia explores Indonesia’s long history of moderation in its practice of Islam and how Islamist radicals have made the country a flash point in the global war on terror. The film provides an inside look at how this fledgling democracy, with its moderate Muslim majority that practices Islam markedly differently than in the Middle East, is struggling to control the rise of religious extremism. A potential model for Muslim democracy emerges, if Indonesia can succeed in containing the terrorist threat.
Security versus Liberty: The Other War
Production Company: WHUT and ABC News Productions
Executive Producers: Jennifer Lawson, Lisa Zeff
Producer: Edward Gray
Airdate: April 20, 2007 at 9 p.m. (check local listings)
Following 9/11, the U.S. government adopted some controversial new policies to help prevent terrorism here at home, including eavesdropping on Americans’ phone calls, secret demands for records under the Patriot Act, and the use of FBI sting operations. The Bush Administration contends these tactics have helped save American lives, but critics say they have taken a toll on our liberties. Security versus Liberty: The Other War explores this urgent national debate by talking with both critics and advocates of the new policies, and telling the compelling real-life stories of people whose lives have been directly affected.
Production Company: Big Pictures, Ltd.
Executive Producer: Steve Hewlett
Producer: Tony Stark
Airdate: April 20, 2007 at 10 p.m. Check Local Listings
The Muslim Brotherhood is dedicated to the spread of a fundamental form of Islam throughout the world — but is it also supporting terrorists? Award-winning Newsweek journalists Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff investigate a movement that preaches peaceful co-existence while offering inspiration for jihadi groups. They meet a top Brotherhood leader condemned by President Bush for financing Al Qaeda and Hamas, a sympathizer living freely in Germany though believed to have played a significant role in 9/11 and a Brotherhood supporter who met with U.S. presidents while plotting an assassination.
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