Deceived, Again

By O'Sullivan, Gerry | The Humanist, May-June 1993 | Go to article overview

Deceived, Again


O'Sullivan, Gerry, The Humanist


Regular readers of The Humanist should need no introduction to Barbara Trent and the Empowerment Project, a group of activist documentarians and videographers based in Santa Monica, California. Their incisive and powerful documentaries Coverup: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair and The Panama Deception earned Barbara Trent last year's Humanist Arts Award from the American can Humanist Association. A working cut of The Panama Deception was shown by Trent at the 1992 annual conference of the AHA in Portland, Oregon, and on March 29, 1993, The Panama Deception received the Academy Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The documentary has even been widely praised by a press otherwise too cowed to tell the real story about Panama, which has remained in a shambles ever since the American attack.

The U.S. government continues to insist that casualty figures from the 1989 invasion were low and the "human costs" kept to a minimum. But as The Panama Deception effectively illustrates, this is an official lie still endlessly repeated by the U.S. media. In February, the National Censorship Board of Panama banned the release of Trent's documentary in any form in that country. And on March 4, Trent and David Kasper, per, the cofounders of the Empowernent Project, were told "P.O.V." series (short for "Point of View") that The Panama Deception would not be included in the show's 1993 lineup--and this despite the documentary's Oscar nomination. …

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