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Screen & Stage
January, 2008


Truth, Justice And The American Way
There ain't any
By  J. R. Kambak

Writing documentaries can be a difficult undertaking if integrity is to be included.
hat is the cardinal rule when writing a non-fiction screenplay about the darkest organic forces in human destiny?

Annotate your scenes to keep your narrative on track. Then the script's conceptual truism is indisputable.  
In retrospect, American journalists Bob Woodard and Carl Bernstein's investigative journalism presented by producer Robert Redford and directed by Alan J. Pakula's Oscar winning film All The President's Men in the early 1970's was a precedent-setting screenplay. 

Writer William Goldman presented the most devastating truth of chicanery, skullduggery, the Watergate scandal's underhandedness of our government's worse instincts. It revealed the Nixon administration as the criminal of the time. Tagline: A slap in the face of how partisan politics conspire to deny, deny, deny.
Oliver Stone put it best when confronted as a leftist radical, criticized for being a muckraking, falsifier, revisionist historian/conspiracy theorist in reference to his biopic, Nixon, “No, because categories are boring and dangerous, and you can't elucidate what's constantly in flux."

Though diametrically opposed critics have accused Stone of speculative authenticity, Stone, along with writers Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson, made copious annotations drawn from Nixon's tapes, transcripts and documents that provide, in dense detail, a titanic narrative of a president's gut-wrenching struggle in the hubris of executive power. Tagline: Biopic films utilize dramatic conceptualization; the axiom of cinematic art.
But are the major film producers willing to invest in films pushing the hot buttons of our social and civil injustices proportionate to its box office strength just as its counterpart K Street lobbyists do by pouring an estimated $1.6 billion into a Republican majority's Congressional war profiteering legislation. Tagline: Corruption is our tutelage, that's why we win.
We are in a tragic aspect of history, where the American political climate could be released as an uncut Francis Ford Coppola's full-length Godfather trilogy; a bandit-proof mafia collapsing American democracy.  

So what does the Academy herald as its latest triumph? That would be the film adaptation of E. Annie Proulx's brilliant literary publication, Brokeback Mountain. It reminds me of a Bridges Of Madison County sequel wherein love counters all, but not when it comes to stopping crimes against humanity. Tagline: A disturbing truth for homophobes that the force of love knows no gender, even in infidelity.
George Clooney's film, Good Night, And Good Luc, a super production tribute to Edward R. Morrow’s hardnosed journalistic integrity and Stephan Gaghan's Syriana, that pulls back the curtain on U.S. "clock and dagger" corruption of the Middle East oil industry, based on the nonfiction book See No Evil, a memoir by former CIA agent Robert Baer warrant higher acclaim. Tagline: Indictments to the treachery of American politics keeps us vigilant to preserve our civil liberties.
Clooney said in a CBS The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith interview, "The truth is, we're been sort of dormant. Hollywood usually reflects society. Politically, socially, we haven't been all that awake until the last four or five years."

For three years I've been documenting the U.S. initiated occupation of Iraq, annotating to date 130 footnotes totaling 47 pages of cross-referencing media, military and eyewitness reports juxtaposed with real-life, unembedded journalist Dahr Jamail's coverage of the two sieges of Fallujah that caused untold thousands of civilians deaths. The short version is a WGA-registered screenplay titled Iraq Dispatches. 

By taking Mr. Stone's lead and supportive of Mr. Clooney's insights, I have a second script draft - the long version — footnoting all references to my dramatic conceptualization of noncombatant deaths that violated the Charter of the United Nations, the Geneva Convention and Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal.

Tagline: The truth is the strongest defense.IN Icon

J.R. Kambak is a award nominated screen-playwright, award-winning videographer, and former corporate communications/media relations executive. E-mail:

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Screen & Stage
IN This Issue
Novel To Screenplay: Adaptation 101
Learning The Lingo
Elevator Exposure
Who Profits?
On The (Back) Lot
Lingua Scriptus
Part II: The Script's Key Plot Points
Part I: The Script's Key Plot Points
Origin Of The Screenplay
Scriptspeak: Writing Dialogue

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