From This is Not a Movie (2019), dir. Yung Chang (image courtesy Anthology Film Archives)

Celebrated British war correspondent Robert Fisk recently passed away, just as a new film about him has been made widely available to stream. Director Yung Chang’s documentary This is Not a Movie is not just a biography of Fisk, but also a challenge to multiple misguided assumptions the establishment makes about both journalism in general and reporting on West Asia more specifically.

Fisk spent decades covering everything from the Troubles in Northern Ireland to the Palestinian liberation struggle to the Syrian Civil War. He has often been accused of sympathizing with terrorists and dictators due to his refusal to parrot the simplistic good-and-evil narrative of the mainstream. (We see, for example, an explanation on why he reported the way he did about the Douma chemical attack in Syria.) In following Fisk through Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon, the film provides an excellent crash course in journalism as a challenge to authority and what “pursuing the truth” actually looks like — as Fisk puts it, “objective, but on the side of those who suffer.”

This is Not a Movie can be streamed via Anthology Film Archives.

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Dan Schindel

Dan Schindel is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Brooklyn, and a former associate editor at Hyperallergic. His portfolio and links are here.