What's the world's most controversial TV news provider? It's not Fox or CBS. It's al-Jazeera, the subject of the award-winning documentary Control Room, now out on DVD. The disc adds interviews with both critics and employees of the Arabic television network. Director Jehane Noujaim spoke with TIME's Carolina A. Miranda.
How did you choose al-Jazeera as a subject?
I was curious about the people behind the station. I grew up in Cairo, with state-run TV that consisted of a guy reading government press releases. Al-Jazeera is unique in that it's not state run.
Why is al-Jazeera so controversial?
What's been criticized is its talk shows, where callers give their opinions, which are often very angry toward the U.S. Al-Jazeera's attitude is that if these opinions exist, they should be addressed.
The film moves between al-Jazeera's offices and Centcom in Qatar. How were the environments different?
The war was more personal at al-Jazeera. The translator, for example, was Iraqi. He'd translate a Bush speech and then call his parents to make sure they were O.K.
What do you think of Iraq's ban on al-Jazeera?
I think it's probably the worst public relations move. It's the most trusted channel for news in the Arab world. It's their CNN.