Challenging the Unchallengeable
by Jim Cirile
February 19, 2008
Interview with Jarek Kupsc, Writer/Director, “The Reflecting Pool”
New feature film “The Reflecting Pool” may just be the “All the President’s Men” of our time. No, it doesn’t have Hoffman and Redford. But it is a chilling and important fact-based investigative drama.
Writer/director Jarek Kupsc (“Slumberland”) stars as Alex Prokop, a successful hard-hitting Russian/American journalist. As a last gasp before corporate takeover, his editor (Lisa Black) hands Prokop a bombshell assignment — investigate the official version of 9-11. Prokop, dismissive of 9-11 skeptics, reluctantly teams with grieving father Paul Cooper (the outstanding Joseph Culp) to investigate. After losing his daughter in the attacks, Cooper transformed himself into a 9-11 expert — at the expense of his marriage. As Prokop and Cooper kick at the hornets’ nest, a sickening, carefully orchestrated pattern of deceit emerges — and Prokop finds publishing the story may mean curtains on his career.
The well-researched (and exhaustively documented on the DVD) thriller ultimately proves more compelling than 9-11-themed documentaries such as “Loose Change” by taking a narrative approach and by personalizing the story. Disbelieving investigative reporter Prokop is an effective audience surrogate, while the passionate, fragile and self-destructive Cooper grounds the story with heart and soul — a constant reminder of the human cost of the “war on terror.” The script is solid, the characterizations moving. If the film has a flaw, it’s in trying to document so much evidence in a narrative structure. Yet by and large, it pulls it off to deliver a chilling and effective message — maybe it CAN happen here.
“The Reflecting Pool” will open eyes, anger some and test the faith of others. But it also finally gives voice to the 48% of Americans distrustful the official 9-11 story, according to a recent Zogby poll. And it’s a tour de force from writer/director/actor Jarek Kupsc. With the 9-11 Truth movement gaining steam by the day (this week alone, Willie Nelson “came out,” joining a growing list of celebrities to question 9-11; Dario Fo & Gore Vidal’s 9-11 documentary “Zero” is dropping jaws and creating buzz in Berlin at the European Film Market; and NY Times reporter Philip Swenon’s expose “The Commission” hit bookstores) we believe this is an important topic worthy of serious discussion, and thus we are proud to bring you this interview with the courageous Mr. Kupsc.
Jim Cirile (JC): Tell us a little about your background.
Jarek Kupsc (JK): I’m over forty, so the background is pretty vast and littered with a lot of debris. But, in telegraphic terms, here it comes. Born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. Art and History major in high-school. Participated in juvenile delinquency politics during martial law with mild consequences. Escaped military service by becoming a political refugee in Greece. Emigrated to the U.S. in 1987 (after an unsuccessful attempt to enter Australia and Canada). Worked my way through college and state university in San Francisco, studying acting and film directing. Wrote a book on film history as a way of financing first feature film (didn’t work out). Subsequently, went bankrupt making two movies.
JC: Wow. What was the genesis of “The Reflecting Pool”?
JK: The movie came as a direct result of my personal interest in 9/11, which began on 9/11 at 9:03 a.m., the moment the second tower got hit. As a born skeptic fed totalitarian propaganda in my native Poland, I never bought the official story of nineteen hijackers. After three years of research, I amassed enough information to believe that this tragic event was orchestrated within the U.S. government circles. I never intended to make a movie about 9/11. I was absolutely positive someone else would. Sure enough, some excellent (and some outlandish) documentaries started to (emerge). I thought it would be a matter of short time before the notoriously “liberal” Hollywood or some independent producer would tackle the subject in a dramatic form. By 2005, that didn’t happen. So I decided to do it on my own. I was simply driven by anger and disbelief that the narrative sector of the movie industry would not deal with this issue. Since I am trained in the narrative form, it was only natural to develop a character-driven fictitious film based on actual events.
JC: The idea of turning all that research into a narrative investigative drama sounds pretty daunting. What was your writing process?
JK: From my personal research, I had all the facts. And by “facts,” I mean sources that came directly from mainstream media — New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, even Fox News, believe it or not. All these outlets reported some pretty damning information. Granted, it was never front-page news. Those articles were buried deep. Luckily, as a grad student, my wife (“The Reflecting Pool” producer) Jodie Baltazar had access to an online library that rivals the Library of Congress, so I could cross-reference any officially published 9/11 topic. I also looked at some of the best 9/11 Truth websites to find links to mainstream articles. They are very thorough in indexing their sources to avoid any suspicion of fabricating or distorting the facts. Having had these facts at my disposal, I then begun a truly arduous process of selecting what should stay in the script and what should go. It was an editorial process of elimination of those facts that were still questionable, less relevant, or could be misconstrued as misinformation. I ended up with a short-list, which I then trimmed to what a two-hour movie could support without overwhelming the audience. The facts you hear about in “The Reflecting Pool” were ultimately chosen to give a solid foundation for the narrative of two guys who go after the truth. The fiction part of the script is what gives the movie human dimension, real drama, as opposed to a fact-driven documentary.
JC: I noticed the DVD is meticulously sourced. These are facts, and the picture they paint is inarguable. Yet many will dismiss them because the concept of government and media complicity is just too horrifying for some folks to handle.
JK: If you dismiss the facts of “The Reflecting Pool,” you have to dismiss every source we used, including Fox News and the most prominent newspapers in the country. So you have to ask yourself, if Fox News is telling me that every intelligence service in the world sent us warnings about the attacks, what does it mean? Now, Fox News, for all intents and purposes, is a propaganda channel for the Bush administration. They are not apologetic about it — they provided the President with a Fox News spokesperson for heaven’s sake! But now and then, even Fox has to report some truth just to give us an illusion of objectivity. In this case, reporting on the foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks, they got it right. Of course, they didn’t break this story — they wouldn’t dare. But once they saw it being reported on the other networks, they were forced to pick it up in fear of not falling behind. The worst form of censorship is self-censorship. Not reporting something you know is true is far more damaging than burning a few library books. What we have in this corporate media-driven society is a combination of self-censorship and marginalizing the inconvenient truth. If you bury it by the obituary page, nobody will read it. If you listen to our commentary on “The Reflecting Pool” DVD, you’ll hear all these quotes from corporate media, and you may think, wait a minute, they DID report this! They must be on our side! What you don’t realize is that none of the facts we quote were ever front-page, or even back-page news. They were meticulously marginalized and, obviously, nobody came out in the mainstream media to connect all the dots. Which is what “The Reflecting Pool” attempts to do — to paint a larger picture based on marginalized reports.
JC: I understand the film was at least partially financed by credit cards. How did you go about raising the money?
JK: We didn’t. We, Jodie and I, and (producer/actor) Joseph Culp, combined our meager personal resources to make this film. There was no time to wait for outside money, which could take years to raise. It had to be done in the moment. For the same reason we are self-distributing the DVD on www.reflectingpoolfilm.com. A lot of people don’t realize that even if you do secure a distribution deal, the so-called turnaround time for the movie to see the light of day would take twelve to eighteen months. By then, Cheney and Co. will (hopefully) be way out of the office, laughing all the way to the bank.
JC: You have a few key cast members from Corman’s original “Fantastic Four” (Joseph Culp and Alex Hyde-White) in your cast 😉 Hyde-White’s Bill O’Reilly-esque host was chillingly accurate.
JK: I met Joseph Culp about three years ago through an actor friend. Joe is an accomplished drama teacher, in addition to his other skills. I took his Walking Theatre Workshop for several years. About a year into my acting training with Joe, I began working on the “Reflecting Pool” script. We ended up workshopping the material in the theatre on weekly basis. In fact, the script really took shape thanks to the acting workshop with Joe.
Now, through Joe and his workshop we had access to some amazing actors. In the early nineties, Joe had been cast in the Roger Corman original “The Fantastic Four” movie as Dr. Doom. He befriended Mr. Fantastic, the outstanding Alex Hyde-White, and during “The Reflecting Pool” casting process, he immediately thought of Alex for the part of our TV host, who is clearly modeled after Bill O’Reilly. The only directorial suggestion I made to Alex Hyde-White in preparation for his role was not to think of it as parody. He really played it straight. When you know what O’Reilly is capable of on the air, you can almost say Alex is underplaying a bit. But in all honesty, the character of Mahoney, the TV show host, in “The Reflecting Pool” is a sad commentary on reality, not on O’Reilly specifically. You have these so-called “news shows” on any network, and they are cast, scripted, and directed as pure entertainment. There is no real news on television, period. Unless you’re into traffic reports and weather.
JC: One thing that jumped out when I saw the film was that I wish there was one brave editor somewhere who’d take on this story, as happened in the film. And yet even Rolling Stone, American Prospect, Mother Jones and The Nation are inexplicably silent on the issue. What do you think is going on?
JK: Vanity Fair did a fairly decent piece on 9/11 and “Loose Change” in 2006. But even they had to beat around the bush, if you excuse the pun. On a good day, I believe they are not educated enough on the facts of 9/11 and still consider it another “nutty conspiracy” case. On a bad day, I think the pressure from the top, meaning the ownership, is just too dangerous to risk a 9/11 expose for the major publications. It’s a make-or-break issue, and most likely they would be broken. Look what happened to Dan Rather with his “60 Minutes” report on Bush’s National Guard service. Look at how (“The View”) dealt with Rosie O’Donnell after the Building Seven episode. This is the message they are sending to other prominent figures — you risk having your career shattered. The issue of spin and damage-control by corporate media features prominently in “The Reflecting Pool.”
JC: What sort of reaction is the film getting? I would imagine there’s praise and also some hostility.
JK: I would have to honestly say that most people who have seen “The Reflecting Pool” so far are firm believers in the government complicity in 9/11. So, by default, they nearly uniformly praise the film. We are getting applause at every show and the Q&As. Personally, I’m very flattered by that. But the real trick is to find a larger, skeptical audience. We have gotten a terrific support from various political groups in spreading the word about the movie. What we need is a fund-raiser to place a full-page color ad in LA Times and book a nice theatre for a week-long run. Then, the papers would have to review the movie, and people not involved in politics would see the ad and hopefully come to the screenings. We have to cross-over to the mainstream if this message is going to be heard loud and clear. That takes the kind of money we simply don’t have. What we do have, however, is grass-roots support, which is a beautiful beginning of a long journey. I’m sure we will encounter real hostility if we show the movie to a larger audience. We are prepared and ready to face it.
JC: What’s next for you?
JK: In terms of a next film project, I would like to continue making small-scale independent films for the rest of my life. I made three so far. Realistically, the next project will need outside financing — I’m tapped out. I have about five projects of varying budgets lined up. What I do next depends on how much money I can get. I’m not a player in the film industry, so my prospects are grim. For now, I’m fully committed to take “The Reflecting Pool” as far as we can take it, domestically and internationally.
JC: Tell us where can folks see “The Reflecting Pool”?
JK: “The Reflecting Pool” screens EVERY Saturday and Sunday at 11AM at the Laemmele Monica 4-plex in Los Angeles. Followed by Filmmakers Q & A after each show. 1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA
You can also check for additional screenings on our website (www.thereflectingpool.com).
JC: And you can also order DVDs off the website. Thanks for your time, Jarek, and best of luck with the movie and your career.
JK: Thank you, Jim.
Source URL: http://www.opednews.com/articles/1/life_a_jim_ciri_080219_challenging_the_unch.htm
Much more information and purchase details is at the Film Website: reflectingpoolfilm.com/.
The Reflecting Pool
A review by Carol Brouillet
“Propaganda is a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of large numbers of people. The most effective propaganda is often completely truthful, but some propaganda presents facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis, in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. ” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda)
“Truthful Journalism: Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. Journalists should:
--Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible. – Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing. – Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability… – Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so… – Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid… – Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.” (www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp)
The Reflecting Pool--a narrative film that recently premiered in Los Angeles – opens with a television interview of a journalist who has just written a book on Communist propaganda in the Soviet Union. The journalist, Alex Prokop, is asked by his editor to review a video about September 11th and write an article comparing the official narrative--as expressed in the 9/11 Commission Report--to the facts about the event. Guided in his task by Paul Cooper, the father of one of the victims who has become an ardent researcher on the topic, Prokop spends two weeks in New York and Washington D.C., interviewing people and discovering damning information never mentioned in the 9/11 Report. The FBI becomes involved, and Prokop is attacked by a lawsuit and the media in an effort to discredit his story.
This is a story about David and Goliath, David being the voice of truth and Goliath being the roaring bellow of empire in decline. There is much to this story--wars being fought, prisoners tortured, the Constitution shredded, the prostitution of the corporate press selling wars for imperial resource grabs--hinging on the media spin about the crime of the century. In its essence, however, the film is a story of two men seeking truth and overcoming fear. This independent film, made on a shoestring budget, a labor of love, brilliantly tackles the linchpin, that holds the carefully crafted illusions in place, and seeks to expose the man behind the curtain.
Although the plot is fictitious and the characters contrived, they painfully mirror real people, in the real world, who experienced the surreal events of September 11th. The Jersey widows who lost their husbands, and Bob McIlvaine who lost his son, showed amazing courage as they together forced the 9/11 Commission onto a reluctant White House. Marriages have been strained and broken by 9/11. Journalists and researchers have risked their lives, reputations, and careers to report damning statements and actions of the very powerful, who profited enormously in the wake of 9/11.
Prokop walks into the lion’s den and questions NORAD; questions those whose expertise is demolishing buildings and who also removed the massive steel evidence and had it shipped to China; questions the firm in charge of security for the World Trade Center (as well as the airports where the hijackers boarded the ill-fated flights); and questions the firefighters who witnessed the destruction and heard explosives. He meets with the researcher who created the best website on the destruction of World Trade Center Building #7, who let go of the story when his first child was born. The commissioners themselves avoid and refuse to meet with him.
It is the secrets, the silences, and the omissions that fuel distrust, that damn the Commission Report, as well as its internal contradictions. It is secrets, silences, omissions, and lies that strain the investigation, the trust, the relationship between Prokop and Cooper. There is much at stake for both men--will they succeed, hang separately or hang together? Will they confide in one another, bare their souls, risk their hard-earned efforts, gamble, and rely on one another? Can they trust a last-minute witness, last-minute documents? Will their truth prevail against the backlash that Prokop’s cover story is sure to trigger? They are not Daniel Ellsbergs; the magazine does not have the stature of the Washington Post, and it is being swallowed up by a major corporation. The deadline comes too soon.
The most moving part of the film, for me, was when Cooper, the bereaved father, says to Alex Prokop “I can’t do this alone.” I think that statement sums up what the film is about. The truth is much too big and heavy for one person to bear. Our only hope to face the reality of the current situation, and change it is by sharing the truth, the burden, the responsibility, and the challenge ahead, as widely as possible. Just as the filmmakers have drawn their strength and courage from others, their work will serve to illuminate, encourage and expand the search for truth, for a real investigation, for an end to false flag operations designed to terrorize the population and silence us into submission and support of endless wars against fabricated enemies.
The filmmakers are valiantly attending each theatrical screening in Los Angeles, answering questions, making the DVD available, hoping the growing truth movement will support their work, and use the tool they have created to reach audiences who would not watch a documentary.
In the bonus material on the DVD, Joseph Culp offers a running commentary, sourcing the information covered in the film. There is also a recent book by best-selling author Steve Alten called The Shell Game which uses the power of story to point people to source material relevant to 9/11--to get them thinking, questioning, and ultimately participating in an effort that requires the courage of many.
The Reflecting Pool and The Shell Game do not fall neatly into the categories of either propaganda or truthful journalism; they engage us in the drama of large events, the immense personal struggles people go through when they stick their necks out for truth and justice, to prevent major acts of violence against innocent people. They call on our spirit, demand that we pay attention, think for ourselves, not succumb to the mind-numbing lies propagated by an Orwellian press. They help us to see that there is something deeply amiss with the media in this country and encourage us to help change that.
Films like The Reflecting Pool can have a profound effect on society. My own life was changed by Oliver Stone’s film JFK, which I saw in 1992. It disturbed me and sent me to the library to find out for myself what happened and prompted me to become a media activist. The Reflecting Pool has the potential to stir a person’s curiosity in the same way to question the official story about 9/11. The government spends hundreds of millions of dollars to sell “the war on terrorism,” which is entirely based on the official lies about 9/11. The Reflecting Pool, which was produced on a shoestring budget like most of the 9/11 truth movement, can be a stone from David’s sling that helps to bring Goliath down.
Those of us who challenge the lies of empire believe in the power of truth, that knowledge is power. The more knowledgeable we are as citizens, the more powerful we will be to withstand and rein in the assaults of the tyrannical forces that seek to terrorize and control us. Our strength lies in an unwavering quest for truth, a faith in humanity’s inherent goodness, and a willingness to overcome our feelings of separateness and join together in a common cause- The Reflecting Pool is both an introduction and invitation to join in the continuing struggle for truth, peace and justice.