Bringing Middle East Documentaries into 'Alternate Focus'

By 08/24/2009
Bringing Middle East Documentaries into 'Alternate Focus'
Alternate Focus

If you’re looking for a venue for stories from, studies on, and analysis of the Middle East outside coverage by the mainstream media you’ll find a treasure trove of alternative journalism from Alternate Focus. Founded by a Jews, Muslim and Christian, the San Diego-based documentary producer, broadcaster, and distribution company focuses on telling the truth about one of the most volatile regions in the world.

Affiliated with various independent video companies and cable channels, Alternate Focus’ content is available over the air on select stations across the country, on DVD, and through their simple but teeming website. And I mean teeming.

Alternate Focus not only offers, as of August 2009, fifty documentaries for view, but fifty documentaries of extraordinary length for an Internet medium that seems to have made ten minutes an absolute maximum duration. It’s quality and not quantity that counts, obviously, but quantity also affects quality, and half-hour documentaries that play well as programs on other mediums are difficult to watch as a tiny square on the corner of one’s computer.

And that’s okay. Similar to sites like TED Talks, Fora.TV, and Big Think, you’re not clicking on Alternate Focus for entertainment, but for an education.

Much of Alternate Focus’ docs are filmed lectures: James Zogby speaking about how neo-Conservative policies led America foolishly into Iraq, Bethlehem University Professor Qustandi Shomali discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict, Professor Salman H. Abu-Sitta telling the story of his exile from Palestine upon the creation of Israel in 1948. Fascinating stuff, but not exactly a feast for the eyes. Even more visually-minded entries like De Facto State of Lawlessness, which documents Israel settler violence against Palestinians, or Ex-Communicated: Enclosure Landscapes in Palestine rely on slideshow like stills to paint their pictures.

Alternate FocusAlternate Focus’s idea of documentary is largely that of a simple conveyor of verbal information. While latest releases like scare-you-shitless Onward Christian Soldiers (about Christian Evangelical Zionists who only support Israel to expedite the End Times) tend more toward a generic History Channel-like serviceability, these documentaries are more in lieu of doing the reading than anything else.

Check them out at