A new documentary bound for Toronto International Film Festival dares to talk about liars and the independent journalists who expose them.
Going up against the man is never an easy thing to do especially when you’re one of the few folks fighting the good fight. IndieWire exclusively debuted the trailer for All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone, a documentary film exploring legendary American journalist I.F. Stone whose groundbreaking investigative reporting dared to reveal hard truths about the government and the country, and influenced many journalists to seek to do the same. The film also traces modern news media and their mounting reluctance to investigate or criticize government policies.
The trailer opens with the Colin Powell’s Iraq War presentation at the United Nations in 2003, in which he claimed to be providing “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” His words and demeanor are haunting given what we know now about Iraq’s weapons program then and the war that took place afterward. This scene is followed by a series of independent journalists making challenging statements about the modern news media. Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks asks, “When was the last time CNN said, ‘The Pentagon is lying,’?” Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! asks how state media would be any different from current American media companies. Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi says media is money by “avoiding difficult truths about our society.” These are all powerful statements from independent journalists who have dedicated their careers to exposing said difficult truths. The scenes set us up for Michael Moore-level bombshells and dare to question our own ideas about where we get our news from and whether or not those sources are legitimate. Moore even makes an appearance, calling I.F. Stone an inspiration to the work he is doing now.
The film is inspired by director Fred Peabody’s own experiences in investigative journalism and in his reading of Stone’s biography of the same name by Myra MacPherson. In exploring the book, Peabody found that many journalists and filmmakers were influenced by I.F. Stone’s legacy of investigative journalism. Stone is best known for composing a small 4-page newsletter from 1953 to 1971 that campaigned against McCarthyism and racial discrimination, and criticized the Vietnam War. At its peak in the 1960s, the Weekly had a circulation of 70,000 but was regarded as highly influential. Stone’s work was the precursor to political blogging and online whistleblowing, and the film seeks to trace that history and its impact on contemporary investigative journalism.
The trailer feels relevant and timely set against the present-day backdrop of WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden. The film follows modern journalists as they expose government and corporate secrets, and the trailer teases some issues it will address like the 2016 U.S. primary in New Hampshire and the cover up of mass graves of undocumented migrants. The film will give a behind-the-scenes look at some independent online publications changing the face of journalism such as The Intercept and Democracy Now!, and the struggles they face in delivering the news.
The film features interviews with veterans Noah Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges, and Carl Bernstein discussing how I.F. Stone influenced their work. It doesn’t look like an easy film to digest, but the trailer’s straightforward and in-your-face portrayal of the problems with modern day news media makes it a must-watch for political junkies, conspiracy theorists, journalists, and people who are simply interested in the truth. All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of L.F. Stone will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.