In the era of the Edward Snowden scandal, the documentary “All Governments Lie” is a timely exploration of the media, government and journalism as a whole. It follows the stories of different independent journalists as they discuss and expose the role of media in the deception of the American people, sometimes by the government itself. Each individual story shows a different aspect of this system, and these stories are all tied together by the legendary narrative of journalist I.F. Stone.
The film includes diverse examples of each part of the media, from stories that will never reach the light of day due to lack of interest from the major news networks to independent news investigations that attempt to uncover hidden truths. The film touches on issues inherent in our system of government today.
The documentary is full of moments of truly compelling honesty. These, mixed with the genuine enthusiasm clearly put into the making of the film itself, create a thoroughly engaging experience that gives the audience the opportunity to learn something tangible about government corruption.
That being said, this effort towards education is unfortunately inconsistent. Viewers will find that moments of the film lull and cause the story to drag and lose the audience’s interest. There are several sections of filler material that could easily be cut out, making the documentary a cleaner and more provocative experience.
However, what is so vitally important about this film is not necessarily found in its technical structure, but instead in the core messages it tries to convey. The piece helps uncover the corruption so glaringly apparent the major media sources in this country. It shows the faults of journalism when the major sources are too entangled in the groups they are supposed to be reporting on.
This exposure is what makes the central spirit of I.F. Stone so prevalent. The filmmakers regard him as a hero on the side of journalism, uninfluenced by all things but for the very facts that he tries to bring to light. The film, like Stone himself, is about bringing back the integrity of the news itself.
The film celebrates the champions who try to do this sort of ethical reporting in today’s news culture. It holds up the independent journalists, the independent media sources and essentially all those who are sharing the truth regardless of circumstance.
“All Governments Lie” is flawed. It is preachy, clearly biased and intensely overdramatic, but that should not take away from the many aspects of it that make this film a success. It is a success for the bare-bones truths it presents. It is a success because there is an honesty to the people they interview and to the filmmakers themselves. Finally, it is a success because it tries desperately hard to follow the ideals that it holds up.
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