In The Corridors of Power, filmmaker Dror Moreh takes a bracing look at the factors that kept America — the sole remaining superpower in the immediate post-Cold War era — from intervening in global instances involving genocide, war crimes and other large-scale atrocities.
“The idea of the movie started, basically, when I saw the horrible picture that came out from Syria, especially after the chemical attack [in 2013], especially after the Syrian regime has crossed Obama’s red line,” Moreh revealed during Deadline’s Contenders Film: Documentary awards-season panel, noting that President Barack Obama had indicated that the U.S. would commit to opposing the Assad regime. “So I asked myself: What goes on in those decision-making rooms when they decide to intervene in one place, but not the other, or they don’t decide?”
“After the Second World War, the world had watched what had happened and said, ‘Never again,’ and yet it happens over and over again,” explained Moreh, who started the film’s chronology in the 1990s.
The Corridors of Power is peppered with interviews with some of the world’s leading diplomats and high-ranking U.S. officials including Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, James Baker, Leon Panetta, Wesley Clark, Chuck Hagel, Prudence Bushnell, Samantha Power and current Secretary of State Antony Blinken, opining about policy toward war-ravaged nations like Syria, Rwanda and Bosnia.
Moreh said he secured his chat with those in the room where it happened “with a lot of patience and determination. And they wanted to speak: the first interview that was conducted with Madeleine Albright, the late former Secretary of State in November 2014; the last interview was conducted with Samantha Power in February 2020, just before Covid. So it was a process of six years to get them to speak all of them.”
But Moreh did ultimately make a conscious choice not to speak to any of America’s more recent presidents.
“At the beginning, I thought I will interview them,“ he said on the Contenders panel that also included the film’s co-editors Oron Adar and Stephan Krumbiegel. “But the more I got into the interviews, I decided that I don’t want them because I want to put the audience in the seat of the decision maker. I want the audience to the to have the pros and cons in front of them. Let’s say Madeline Albright is saying ‘We have to intervene in Bosnia,’ and in front of her Colin Powell says, ‘No, we cannot intervene.’ And I wanted that each one from the audience will ask himself, ‘What would I do if I was the commander-in-chief?’”
Check out the panel video above.
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