Bound for controversy
Paradise resident’s documentary investigating America’s post-9/11 civil liberties getting major attention
Christine Rose entered Moxie’s Cafe dressed in casual, colorful natural-fiber clothes, wearing her unmistakable granny glasses and looking every bit the independent filmmaker. A filmmaker who believes it is her destiny to make a movie uncovering “the lies surrounding the Bush administration.”
Having grown up in the death-penalty capital of the world, Huntsville, Texas, a small town with one high school, one college, one hospital and nine—yes, nine!—prisons, including one that houses death row inmates, Rose believes she has “a connection with George Bush, at least geographically.”
Rose and her husband, Ethan, a carpenter, eventually moved and settled in Paradise seven years ago.
Asked how things were there, Rose explained, “We’re moving again, this time to Canada, in order to escape the systematic oppression of freethinkers here in the United States.”
What’s made Rose more than slightly paranoid about life in the United States is the increasing erosion of civil liberties she saw while traveling around the country in an effort to answer questions about what she considers to be a “cover-up” surrounding the World Trade Center bombings of Sept. 11, 2001.
Filming her journey across the U.S. and back, Rose documented the state of civil liberties in post-9/11 America on her home video camera and packaged the footage in a highly critical documentary called Liberty Bound.
The film was recently given a world premiere screening to an over-capacity crowd at the Artivist Film Festival in Hollywood, and once again (as at all of its showings) there were cheers, kudos and congratulations. It was not unlike the reaction at the Cannes Film Festival, when the king of independent documentary film making, Michael Moore, was given the longest standing ovation in the history of the festival for his incendiary film Fahrenheit 9-11. Both Moore’s film and Liberty Bound take scrutinizing looks at the Bush administration.
As Rose explained, “Michael Moore is my hero. I feel very lucky to have my film coming out at the same time his does.”
Rose started filming Liberty Bound in January 2003, when the first anti-Iraq war protests were beginning here in Chico and in bigger cities around the country. Having just turned 33, the same age Michael Moore was when he filmed his first feature hit, Roger and Me, this Green Party activist decided to “take the advice of independent filmmakers around the world: Don’t go to film school, don’t wait for financing, just make your movie!”
Parlaying a chance to travel across the country to visit her dying grandfather into a filming opportunity, Rose abandoned the clients in her massage therapy business and hit the road.
She had no camera crew, so she is seldom seen in Liberty Bound. Armed with a digital movie camera and a backpack of clothes, she took Amtrak across the country to visit her grandfather and Ground Zero, in New York City, in an effort to understand what really happened on 9/11.
As the train entered Colorado, Rose was busy talking to fellow passengers and engaging anyone who would listen to hear about this new adventure as a filmmaker. She noticed a “big teddy bear of a gentleman” sitting a few rows in front of her, and she heard him sermonizing about “the nature of the universe, the forces of dark and light, and our government’s reaction to 9/11 as that of a dark agent.”
Returning to the train after a stop at the depot in Denver, she noticed that Denver police had surrounded her train car. Boarding, she saw cops interrogating the excited philosopher. “One of the other passengers got nervous by the loud man and called the cops,” Rose explained.
Slyly, she returned to her seat, put on her headphones as if listening to music, and began recording the interrogation. What she heard was frightening.
The police told the man that he was “not to mention 9-11 again, to shut up for the rest of the trip and not to be so animated.” When asked how this could be happening for simply mentioning 9/11, the police responded, “This is the new America; things have changed.”
As the footage from the train illustrates, it is through interviews with average Joes whose civil liberties have been squashed or seriously trampled that Rose strikes what she sees as “controversial” gold.
Another interview features Jeff Seamen, who is currently running for Congress in Ohio. Seamen had experienced a serious breach of liberties while a graduating senior at the University of Ohio. At graduation, he turned his back while President Bush was giving a speech to the student body. He was led out of the stadium and interrogated by the Secret Service and threatened with arrest and expulsion from the school.
Knowing that it wasn’t going to be enough to interview average citizens, Rose also includes interviews with a few fairly “famous” people, such as historian Howard Zinn, ex-LAPD officer Michael Ruppert (the star of the video The Truth and Lies of 9-11) and social activist and lecturer Michael Parenti.
How did an independent filmmaker get in touch with such notable minds? Rose found that researching people through the universities where they teach and alternative news agencies such as the Guerilla News Network or the Democratic Underground was a sure way to find contact information. Diligent follow-up work enabled her to interview some of the brightest leftist celebrities on national events to discuss, in depth, their views on Bush’s alleged involvement behind a cover-up of 9/11.
“I found that those whose opinions and knowledge are not being aired on primetime TV and the radio are more than happy to be interviewed,” said Rose.
By the time Liberty Bound was finished, in April 2003, Rose would have been happy just to find someone to appreciate her handmade film and perhaps secure financing for whatever her next project would be. What she found, in the form of Lorraine Evanoff, a producer and actress working in France, was someone who believed in the project so much that she became the executive producer.
Evanoff, after showing the unfinished film at the Cannes market last year, found a French film distribution company called Take Off that agreed to take on the movie and complete (and pay for) the post-production. Take Off paid $250,000 for Liberty Bound and began nine months of negotiations with an entertainment lawyer, dealing with CNN for licensing archival footage used and transferring the digital film to 35mm. Rose stayed focused on Liberty Bound, searching indieclub.com, an on-line community of independent filmmakers, to find a production assistant, sound man, PR person and composer.
No matter how Liberty Bound achieves exposure—via cable TV, the Internet, DVD or theatrical distribution (the latter of which seems likely since it’s currently being shopped at the Cannes market by its distributor)—Rose seems destined to have more doors open for her in the world of film making. On her Web site libertybound.com she spells out succinctly what the experience of making a film has meant for her: “Liberty Bound was produced out of my desire to respond to the insanity and fear that has gripped our country since 9/11, in an entertaining and interesting way. Upon hearing conflicting stories between different groups of the government and media, I decided to take my own journey of discovery. I became the journalist; talking to American citizens about their experiences, feelings and fears.”
Currently, Rose and her husband have bought a fixer-upper 12-room "mansion" in Nova Scotia and are on the way to transforming it into a bed-and-breakfast inn. This would be enough to keep anyone busy, but Rose already has a new film in the works. This one will be about the alleged "marriage" between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. As a filmmaker, it seems, Christine Rose is controversy bound.