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William Kellys War
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, October 30, 2014 - Edition No 921 

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ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER

SYNOPSIS:
The presence of the Israeli team at the 1972 Olympic Games held in Munich was imbued with symbolism. A team from the Jewish state was competing in Germany; indeed in the very city where Nazism was born. For their part, the Germans were intent on demonstrating to the world how far they had come since the war - how open and tolerant Germany had become. Security around the Olympic Village was relaxed in a display of openness in keeping with the friendly atmosphere of the Games. But when terrorists from the radical Palestinian group Black September entered the village and took 11 members of the Israeli team hostage, the veneer of camaraderie was shattered as the Games were dragged violently onto the worldís political stage.

"The revelations in this documentary are truly extraordinary. Some for their detail, some for their insight, and some for their sheer amazement value: like how incredibly badly organised the Germans were; from the politicians to the police to the Olympian organsiers. But most of all, it is Kevin Macdonald's relentless efforts to interview the remaining Palestinian terrorist involved, Jamal Al Gashey, whose reluctant testimony (30 minutes of interview, recorded over eight hours after almost a year of tracking and persuasion and spread over the length of the film) that provides a cold balance to the heated passions that are raised by the events. The insights, and the linear narrative of the film, make this a special documentary, an examination of an event that changed the world. But it also exposes our greatest weaknesses as human beings, manifested at the structured and rarified levels of nations and international organisations. Ironically, the film opens in Australia on the eve of the 2000 Olympiad, after Sydney's Olympics organisation disgraced itself as vain, selfish, stupid and corrupt. You will not be consoled by the fact that the guys in 1972 were just as bad. Macdonald's film is a cold shower in mankind's changing room of the millenium."
Andrew L. Urban

"There will be those who claim One Day in September is a work of bias, while others will protest that it doesn't offer a solid enough understanding of the political situation in the Middle East. In answer to the first charge, it must be difficult when dealing with a single circumstance of brutality to appear objective. As to the second, a film covering this centuries old conflict could probably last a week and still miss a great deal. Ignoring these two charges, this is both a riveting and moving work. Director Kevin Macdonald has chosen to present the events of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games hostage crisis as a suspense thriller. The documentary genre sure is changing and the surprise here is that he manages to pull it off so completely. Those of us who were around at the time probably think we know what happened. But memory is a fuzzy thing and Macdonald very cleverly withholds key pieces of information so we are able to watch it as though it is actually happening. Revelations at the end of the film come as a complete surprise and demonstrate our minute awareness of international processes. We learn about government, the Olympic movement (nothing too surprising here) and observe sporting commentators trying to come to grips with real tension rather than that artificially manufactured in a stadium. The music of Phillip Glass drives the piece beautifully while interviews and grim photos bring home the frightening reality. A well deserving winner of this year's Academy Award."
Lee Gough

"Whatever you think of the Oscars, youíve got to admit sometimes they do get it right. In March, after a year of wonderful documentaries, the Academy handed the statuette for best feature length documentary to this story about the tragic events at Munich in 1972. And what a story it is! One Day in September is filled with all the essential elements of human drama - love, politics, violence, hope, heroism, cowardice, despair, anger. Impressively directed by Kevin Macdonald, the film is constructed in what is essentially narrative format, although using the real life events. Narrated by Michael Douglas and supported by a great soundtrack, One Day in September builds a kinetic tension as circumstances unfold, leading to a shocking climax. But Macdonald doesnít forget that thereís a human dimension to the tragedy. He focuses on two men at the centre of the drama, each (in their own way) bringing their own perspective to the film. Although they had little in common, the calamity of that day and its aftermath for both of them is stunningly brought home. There are several confronting scenes in this film, but a filmmaker canít possibly hope to tell the full story without revealing the ugly side of what went on. It doesnít pull any punches in the emotional department either, with an ending as moving as any since Schindlerís List - and all the more powerful because itís real. One Day in September deserves to be seen; so please donít be put off by the fact itís a documentary. This is a terrific film - one of the finds of the year."
David Edwards



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER (MA)
(US)
Feature documentary

KEY INTERVIEWEES: Jamal Al Gashey (Palestinian terrorist), Gerald Seymour (ITN reporter at the Games), Gad Zabari (escaped athlete), Manfred Schreiber (Head of Israeli Olympic Delegation), Walther Troger (Mayor of Olympic Village), Hans-Dieter Genscher (Minister of Interior), General Ulrich K Wegener (Aide de Camp to Minister), Magdi Gohary (Adviser to Arab League), Ziv Zamir (Chief of MOSSAD, Israeli Secret Service), Hans Jochen Vogel (Mayor of Munich)

NARRATOR: Michael Douglas

DIRECTOR: Kevin Macdonald

PRODUCER: Arthur Cohn, John Battsek

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Alwin Kuchler, Neve Cunningham

EDITOR: Justine Wright

MUSIC: Alex Heffes, Craig Armstrong (with additional music from Philip Glass)

RESEARCH: Khalil, Abed Rabbo (Palistinian journalist), Monica Maurer, Felix Moeller

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: August 24, 2000

Awards: 2000 Academy Award, Best Documentary

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