Wellington Scoop

Film festival diary: truth, lies, deception


by Michael C Barnett
The NZ International Film Festival is in full swing this week and next, with many promising movies to be seen. I saw two excellent documentaries over the weekend, both focusing on power and corruption in high places. The second was ‘All Governments Lie: Truth Deception and the Spirit of I.F. Stone.’ There are two more chances to see it.

I F Stone was a doyen of objective journalism during much of the 20th Century. Honoured by many of his peers, he is best remembered for his newsletter, I. F. Stone’s Weekly (1953–71), which was ranked in 16th place among the Top 100 Works of Journalism in the United States in the 20th Century” by New York University’s journalism department in 1999.

The movie opens with news clips of classic lies and deceptions such as Richard Nixon telling the world ‘I am not a crook’, US Defence Secretary Colin Powell addressing the UN Security Council with his irrefutable evidence of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and more. This eye opening documentary focuses on the mainstream media in the United States and its capture by the political and power elite. No longer do we get in depth investigative journalism, but sound bites and direct reporting of what comes out of the White House, the Pentagon, the stories they want us to hear and infotainment presented as informative news designed to distract us from what is really going on.

‘All Governments Lie’ brings to the viewer’s attention the growth of many lower profile independent news outlets of investigative journalism and presents interviews with high profile investigative journalists including Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame, Noam Chomsky, Matt Taibbi, Glen Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Amy Goodman and others, to present a damning indictment of the mainstream media. The film weaves together the efforts of these figures with the impact of Stone who covered Lyndon B. Johnson, the Vietnam war and more.

It gives coverage to stories not of interest to the mainstream media. For example, the mass graves of migrants from Mexico and Central America, discovered in Brooks County Texas, 100 miles north of the border. These were desperate people seeking a better life, who had succumbed to the harsh desert environment. Democracy Now’s 2015 coverage of the civil war in Yemen exposes US government logistic support to the Saudi invaders. Both are stories authorities try hard to bury.

“The establishment reporters, without a doubt, know a lot of things I don’t know. But a lot of what they know isn’t true.” – I F. Stone

The irony is the that despite his rants about the fake news of the mainstream media, Donald Trump would probably not hold the position of President of the United States of America without the implicit help of that media. This film should not be missed.

Tue 8 August 8 30 pm at Nga Taonga

Thu 10 Aug 4 15 pm at Nga Taonga


  1. Anabel, 3. August 2017, 10:11

    Yes good stuff, showing how the media has become a tool of the establishment elites. When did the fact of govt lying become acceptable to the people who vote for it? And when did the unfair and biased media election process, that chooses presidents who are not fit to lead nations, become ” normal” to people?

  2. Mark Shanks, 3. August 2017, 11:17

    It’s weird how people can be convinced that something really bad for them and the planet is actually good. It happens all the time and everywhere. Pasternak wrote, “Men who are not free… always idealize their bondage” or the Stockholm Syndrome, where the captives choose to stay with their captors, taking their captors’ side against those offering a choice of freedom.