The filmmaker who once put the spotlight on the fast food industry now has a new feature length documentary in American theaters. In the film, "Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?" filmmaker Morgan Spurlock searches the Middle East for the notorious terrorist and al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden. As in his 2004 film, "Super Size Me," Spurlock uses satire to approach a serious issue -- in this case, terrorism and the cultural divide between the West and the Middle East. VOA's Penelope Poulou has a review.
Walking down a tree-lined street in New York City Filmmaker Morgan explains what actually drove him to go to the Middle East in search of Osama Bin Laden. He says: "If I learned anything from big budget action movies is that the complicated global problems are best solved by one lonely guy."
With this Hollywood-like introduction, Morgan Spurlock begins the daunting trek from Moroco to Pakistan in search of the notorous terrorist.
But his tongue-in cheek approach fades as he examines poverty in the Middle East, Islamic extremism and America's negative image in the Arab world. Spurlock says many people there, no longer look up to the United States and are very critical of the country. This, he says, was sad and depressing to hear.
Spurlock travels from the shantytowns of Morocco and Egypt to the shopping malls of Saudi Arabia and the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He talks to hundreds of people about their dreams, hopes and disenchantment and says most want peace, food on their table and a better life for their children. And most of them did not revere Osama Bin Laden.
"As you travel through the Middle East there are so many people that look at this guy as someone who's brought more harm than good," says the filmmaker. "While [Osama] may have brought Islam and religion into the forefront at the same time he's also caused incredible persecution amidst the Moslem populations," he concludes.
As Spurlock goes eastward he sees the devastation of war in the region. At a bombarded school in the Gaza strips he looks at the caved-in ceiling and destroyed desks. Everythign around him is mangled; Sheer mess.
"You see this and you get a sense of how wrong things are," he says. "I cant imagine raising my kid in a place like this. I couldn't imagine living in a place where my kid went to school and this is something it could happen every day."
Afghanistan, which America helped to liberate in 2001 from the Taliban, was one of his central stops. Back then, Spurlock says, Afghanis held out hope for change.
"And at this point now, here we are seven years later and that hope has turned into incredible disappointment," he notes.
Spurlock's documentary "Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?" makes the point that the search for the elusive terrorist, even if successful, is not the solution.
"There are so many other problems out there that create an Osama Bin Laden, that reinforce people to follow him and believe in him. And I think, if we [Americans] are going to do anything, we have to change our foreign policy," he says.
Spurlock's film attempts to shed American stereotypes about the Middle East. He shows Middle Eastern people who are as diverse as Americans themselves, with similar hopes and dreams.