has a neat explanation about why most movies might put you off these days...
By Caroline Briggs
The Power of Nightmares began as a three-part documentary
Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 thrust documentary film into the spotlight
at the Cannes Film Festival when it won the Palme d'Or for best film. The
Power Of Nightmares, by British documentary-maker Adam Curtis.
The powerful film looking at how fears over an organised Al-Qaeda terror
network have come to dominate US and UK politics was shown on the BBC last
But organisers approached Curtis and asked him to make the three-part
documentary into a single film to be shown Out of Competition at the
Curtis is on the Riviera to watch the film premiere under the glare of the
world's media at the Palais on Saturday night.
"I'm really interested in why this lot - the cineastes and arty lot - are
interested in politics and factual stuff, and I think it is because they
have run out of ideas for fiction.
"People like me are interesting because we are describing the world in a
new sort of way."
Curtis used Gus Van Sant's Last Days - which is in competition for the
Palme d'Or - as an example of what he believes is lacking in current films.
The film is loosely based on the final days of Nirvana frontman Kurt
Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994.
"I thought it was a good film, but I thought it is typical of a lot of
films of our time - they don't really know what to say about the world,"
"They can describe it beautifully, and Last Days was exactly that. It was a
beautiful, beautiful evocation of the horror of an event, but it didn't
explain it to you, and it almost didn't explain to you deliberately.
"It was sort of like, 'I'm going to just show what it was like to be
there', and that is what Last Days was like."
Curtis said Van Sant's direction was typical of the current emotional
climate about the importance of the individual running through the veins of
"Film-makers have other responses to the world other than their own
emotions. We are living in a time when emotions rule everything.
"In a sense Mr Van Sant is being completely honest and true, which is
probably what a good artist does, but actually the only way you can be true
at the moment in terms of being an individual is to say 'well I feel this',
and that is his feeling about Columbine or about Kurt Cobain.
"I think the really difficult thing to do in our time is analyse why people
like Mr Van Sant only have that response."
Curtis believes Gus Van Sant relies on personal emotions for his movies
Curtis said The Power of Nightmares attempted to explain the modern world
and put it in context with the individual.
He said: "I think the cineastes and film-makers are getting quite
interested [in The Power of Nightmares] because a lot of their fiction has
run into a dead end.
"The film I have just made is about the relationship between individuals
"Film doesn't seem to want to 'do society' any longer, its sort of given up
on this, it is just about 'I feel this', which seems to be a condition of
"I haven't seen a movie that deals with society for 20 years."
The Power of Nightmares explains how Curtis believes the vision of an
Islamic terror network has been distorted by politicians intent on creating
a climate of fear.
I will have to make it absolutely clear that I am not saying there is no
terrorist threat, but it isn't as simple as you are being told
The film makes it clear there are fanatical individuals willing to conduct
acts of terror, but shows there is no formal terrorist Al-Qaeda
Talks are underway at Cannes with distributors who are keen to show the
film in the US. Curtis said he hoped any screening of the film would open
up a "critical debate" in the US about the existence of Al-Qaeda and the
wider terrorist threat touted by politicians.
"I will be questioned a lot, but maybe this is rather optimistic, I think
there is a sense in the backs of people's minds that things don't quite add
"I will have to make it absolutely clear that I am not saying there is no
terrorist threat, but it isn't as simple as you are being told. The threat
has been over-simplified in the wake of September 11.
"I hope that would receive a decent critical response, rather than an