Friday, March 25, 2011

I Know I'm Not Alone (2006)

Group 2 Responses (400 word minimum). Focus on themes, or specific scene shots, or some other aspect of the film or its social, cultural, musical context. Due by the end of Tuesday.

Group 1 comments (200 word minimum): Supply a thoughtful comment that expands upon one (or several) of Group 1 responses.


  1. The film i know im not alone made me kinda think from a different aspect on a lot of things, such as the war in iraq and also iraqi people as a whole. In the film hearing from the other side of the fence and some of the personal stories that were shared kinda let you feel what they felt. Running water at certain parts of the day if any at all , electricity cutting on and off mostly running by generators and the smell of fuel always lingering. At the beginning of the film i was kinda hesitant to go into watching open mindedly knowing my own belief and where i stood with support of our country. Still i find it hard to believe that Americans acted in inhumain ways like this but when threatened i believe you cant just sit there.
    Some of the music that you heard from the natives in iraq to me was kinda strange .. talkling about palm trees and rivers just doesnt seem to lyrical in my opinion.

    On the other part of the film talking about isreal and its borders kinda opened my eyes to something new. i had no clue of the challenges people faced in what we know as holy land .

    Watching this film kinda put things into perspective and kinda made you think. how would i feel if war between states and also countries was going on in my homeland?

  2. Michael Franti traveled to Iraq, Palestine and Israel to see first -hand how wars were affecting these countries. Franti got sick of watching and hearing about the economic cost of the war on the news and decided to get his guitar and a few good friends and set out for the middle-east. The first stop was Bagdad. He was driven from place to place by a local cab driver who let Franti really know what was going on. There were rolling blackouts, minimal water availability and also… death metal. The blackouts and water shortage was due to the rebel forces targeting and bombing the plants. The lifestyle in Bagdad is a scary one. Shots rang out all the time. The people never knew if that day would be their last. The population just wanted peace and tried to find hope that one day they would able to financially support themselves.
    Michael hung out with a metal band “The Black Scorpions” in a small jam room filled with the smell of gasoline. The smell was caused by the band running their amps on a generator. The kids just wanted a release for their emotions. Franti also hung out with U.S. soldiers at their local watering hole and heart their stories of the war. Bagdad became the place where Franti came up with the song “Habebe”. This song became a hit with the local that seemed to transcend from town to town as Franti and crew made their way to the Palestine/Israel boarder. Franti visits the town of Jaffa and jams with Sheva, a group of musicians that have songs crying for peace. The Israeli military is so vast that they take charge imposing a curfew on Palestinian residents and even take their farmland from them.
    Franti also runs across an Israeli rap group called. “D.A.M.” and lends his beat box skills while the group spit hot Israeli fire into the street. When Franti and crew head back to the Palestinian/Israeli boarder, they have a long and intense discussion on the rights of farmers and citizens of nearby towns. Although the soldiers had a lot to say they did not seem to know exactly why the war has gone on for so long. These soldiers were mostly kids. This is because Israeli law forces the youth to serve in the military. Franti talks to one of the ex soldiers and he seems to have some morals. He stated that when he first joined he said he would never do certain things, but then once he was in the military he found out that he had to do what he was told. He said it got easier the more he did these certain things. Although both sides were at war, the Consensus of both sides is that they would rather there be peace than war. These wars have been going on so long that nobody knows when they will end, but as Franti and his crew would find out, “they are not alone”.

  3. This film is an incredibly honest snapshot into what the people in Baghdad, Israel, West Bank & Gaza Strip are feeling. This film will force you to acknowledge that every human life is as valuable as the next, and that war is a thief.
    Michael Franti seems to be an honest and compassionate musician, who took it upon himself to seek the truth about the climate of these areas when he was curious about the truth being conveyed in the media. His way with people is remarkable, and his music and musicianship gained him access to otherwise unreachable people and conversations. One of most memorable moments of the film is when he takes a visit to the hospital. There are too many people with serious injuries. A wonderful aspect of the movie is that he shows both sides. In Baghdad he shows the people of Iraq but also the Americans. in Gaza he shows the Palestinians and the Israeli people. He doesn't judge anyone of them, he just want to understand the situation.
    Michael Franti has a way of "disarming" those around him and that talent comes in quite useful during his trip. The first part takes place in Bagdad. We see an occupied people and the effect that the war has had on them and their country. Michael is brave enough to even hang with coalition forces and sing some tunes for them. Then he goes to the Gaza strip where we see how both the people of Israel and the Palestinians have been affected by the long time conflict there. It is, for the most part, a very objective look at the cost of war on people. It gives a perspective you will not see in the corporate media. Michael Franti goes into dangerous areas, to show the people and listen to their stories. He talks to people who want to make a change, people who want to live in peace.

  4. I really enjoyed “I know I’m Not Alone.” It was nice to see an image of the Middle East that wasn’t shown to us from a government possessed media outlet. What I mean by this is the constant wave of tampered information that we, the American public receive on daily basis from news outlets such as “ Fox News” and “MSNBC.” For years now the government has controlled our media and edited the truth to fit their particular reasoning for going to and continuing a war. Most Americans fall into this trap and go along with what they here, never questioning if what they’re hearing or seeing is the whole truth. Terrorists - The Middle East, The Middle East – Terrorists, this is the connection our government wants us to make, never humanize the so-called enemy. The Middle East is portrayed as “Terrorist Island” these days, the breathing ground for the worst of the worst, always being told that the “cost” of war is for the greater good and that we are doing the people of The Middle East a favor by being there.

    This is why I enjoyed Michael Franti’s film so much; it’s a story about the war we rarely get to see, the story of people that try to live and succeed as best they can while there homeland is devastated by war. In the film I think Michael says it best about what his movie really is, saying, “This film came out of my frustration with watching the nightly news and hearing generals, politicians, and pundits explaining the political and economic cost of the war in the Middle East, without ever mentioning the human cost. I wanted to hear about the war by the people affected by it most: doctors, nurses, poets, artists, soldiers, and my personal favorite, musicians.”

    One scene that stood out to me in particular was the one with the young musician’s and their make-shift equipment. Ive been in a band before and it wasn’t always an easy thing to be involved in, from personal ego’s, to finding gigs, even agreeing on a musical style. In the end we gave up and parted ways because of a few petty obstacles, and now after watching this film I feel like I have been put in my place. The young men in the film haven’t let a little thing like an ego get in their way. Their passion was so strong that not even having proper instruments could stop them. These boys love music and they do what ever it takes to make their dreams come true. The tattoo shop was also a personal favorite, having to make do with what little resources they have. I applaud these artists and their quest of artistic expressions. We as Americans take so much for granted and for me this film really shed some light on that issue. Its sad how the people in The Middle East have to live. For these people to live what an American would call a “Normal Life” is difficult. Their conditions and limited resources as well as war fare going on in their homeland, is something no one in our country could image, but yet these people find away to maintain what lives and happiness they had before the war began.

  5. This documentary, I know I’m not alone, though very raw and given considerable freedom (no retakes) is clearly one sided on several issues. It illustrates to the discerning audience that no matter how intentional or unintentional the documentarian is, his world view and way of seeing things can and will be extended to the lens of his camera. How he sees the world will be seen by the audience.

    This is not a judgment on what was seen at all. I found the documentary to be very eye opening, very revealing, and very thought provoking. It made me stop to think about a different side to Iraq, and a different side to Palestine. It didn’t force its way into my head but rather opened up a wider world to me and let me evaluate what I was seeing against what I’ve been told and then with carefully placed facts aided me in forging a new opinion. An opinion weighed against my former understanding.

    It amazes me that music can so potently and powerfully break down walls and barriers. That despite a total lack of speaking the same language two different cultures could come together with the feel good rhythm of song, and smiling face and dancing. This is powerful stuff, inspiring to say the least. With but a single guitar and nothing else Michael Franti was more or less safe, welcomed in, and understood. He was given a chance to be heard out. And this only multiplied when he learned how to say “my dearest friend”. Habibi. That one word song that in both Iraq and Palestine absolutely ripped down any separation between musician and those he was trying to share the story of to the world.

    It was refreshing, to say the least, to see smiling faces in such a troubled world. A reminder to all of us here so far away that they too are merely people with troubles and plights and also happiness and music and feelings truly no different than anything any of us might feel.

    It is nice to have a face to these people now, an association to go along with all the things we hear coming out of this war torn world of theirs. They are now more than a number, a statistic, a problem. They are people in need no different than anyone else.

    One last observation, an image that has stuck with me since seeing the documentary, where Michael was standing at a gate in the wall of Palestine speaking to the guards. He was doing what any musician might do, strumming a simple melody as he spoke, absent to what he was doing. He was merely tinkering. And yet the idea of music, his music, as potent and powerful as it had been seen to be thus far, was too much for the guards. They demanded him to stop. I love his quick wit, and instant rebuttal, “I will if you take your finger off of your trigger.”

  6. I loved Franti’s inquisitive approach to making this film. At the very beginning of the film he said he went there with the idea of trying to understand the issues better and wanted to see things first hand. Franti did a wonderful job of showing both sides, in Baghdad he shows the people of Iraq but also the Americans; in Gaza he shows the Palestinians and the Israeli people because he just wants to understand the situation. Disregarding his own personal safety he manages to show us a different view of the Middle East that most of us aren’t exposed to in our American media. A lot of film makers would have chosen an easier route to communicate with the people and ultimately it would have probably lost the emotional effect Franti was trying to achieve. Michael Franti goes into dangerous areas, to show the people and listen to there stories. He talks to people who want to make a change and mainly people who want to live in peace. We get to see a more human side of the conflict in the middle east since he embraced the people and culture that were most affected by the war: families, musicians, soldiers, teachers, teenagers and children. Interacting with people on both sides of the conflict in a natural setting was in my opinion a good way to get a more honest response out of the people as opposed to a sit down-staged interview. Overall the film was an eye opener for me and I was thankful for the much needed overview of the history in the region and the little animated map. After watching the turbulent lives of these people it really gave me a sense of appreciation for all that we have here in the United States as well as a better understanding of where much of the animosity against the U.S. comes from. Ive liked his music for a while but now I have a much better understanding of where its coming from. Ive got a lot of respect for anyone that puts that much soul into making a difference in the world.

  7. I agree, wholeheartedly, that this documentary allowed me the opportunity to view this hot button issue in a new light and form a more informed personal opinion. I loved how Michael Franti brought a bold new face to the masked realities of war. Most carry M16s into Palestine; how carried his acoustic guitar. In this modern twist on Cinema Verite, Franti provided an unfiltered truth to Baghdad. His music did all that true protest music should do. It communicated injustices, evoked emotion, and unified a movement. I especially liked the scene at the fence, when he asked the Israeli solider to take his finger off of the trigger in response to their request that he stopped strumming his guitar. This scene put me in the mindset of the independent film, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. (An excellent twist on another tragic and monumental consequence of war). I also like how the beginning of the film, the subtitles read, "...this time, they targeted culture". If war targeted culture, then music must defend it. I think the music in this film did just that; defended the humanity that was robbed of the innocent citizens of Iraq, Israel, Palestine, and Jerusalem. The Iraq music emanated culture, the Hip Hop declared independence and awareness, and the Black Scorpions screamed frustration and years of pent up emotions. Michael Franti's one word peace offering was pure genius. Music, in this film especially, broke through barrier; both physical and abstract. Language barriers came crumbling down and lay in ruins next to the devastated city of Baghdad. This film evoked tears and thought; and a new appreciation for music and its many uses.

  8. Walker said” Michael Franti seems to be an honest and compassionate musician, who took it upon himself to seek the truth about the climate of these areas when he was curious about the truth being conveyed in the media. His way with people is remarkable, and his music and musicianship gained him access to otherwise unreachable people and conversations. One of most memorable moments of the film is when he takes a visit to the hospital. There are too many people with serious injuries.” I agree with this. It was a refreshing change of pace to see how his music could so effectively break down barriers, almost literally. As nice as it was to see that his music could universally touch people I often find it naïve that people think that just music can stop a war. The songs can put ideas in people’s heads, but, as shown in the film with the soldiers, it is hard for a song to change people’s original thoughts, let alone a war. Israeli soldiers and Palestinian citizens already had their minds made up about their “enemies” and though Michael Fronti tried to change their minds through the music it was a fruitless gesture.

  9. The documentary “I Know I’m Not Alone” features Michael Franti who travels to Iraq, Palestine and Israel to see what life is like under foreign military rule. Watching this documentary I was able to see a glimpse into what life under the war is really like from the people who live in these places. This film allowed me to form a more honest opinion on this controversial issue. Franti brought to light the true reality of this war. War has caused these people to have to live without running water and electricity. There are so many blackouts that occur that most people rely on and use generators. The people said that war has made their countries no longer a secure place to live, and everyone spends their days living in fear of what might happen to them. I loved the song he did that said, “Hello does anybody need a place to go, to call your own.” I liked how the song was used in the film because it was if he was describing how these people feel about their current situation. They don’t have happy homes and they don’t feel safe in their countries. These people want peace just as much as the rest of the world so they can go back to loving their countries and feeling safe where they live. Franti goes and performs for a group of soldiers in Iraq to also see what life is like for them having to be overseas and away from their families. He sings “Power to the People” to lift their spirits and show his support for them. Franti wanted to write a song for the people using one Iraqi word to show them he genuinely cares about their stories. A local (one of his new friends) tells him the word Habibi which means sweetheart, dear friend; shows your love for the other person. When he sings his Habibi song with his guitar the children and the locals welcome him and are joyous, singing and dancing in the streets with him. The Iraqis said that they were thankful for us getting rid of Sudham, but now they want us gone so they can build their country back up and begin to rule themselves again. They said they liked the Marines because they were kind and respectful toward the local people, but when the Army came that’s when things got bad. They said the Army people are very rude and disrespectful towards them and they have destroyed their country. This made more sense to me now as to why they would want us out of their country. If their government tried to come into the U.S. and take over everything like we did, I know Americans would not just put up with it like we are expecting them to do. The scene when Franti is singing “Could You Ever” in the Iraqi hospital was emotional to watch. There were children and adults with limbs missing and the doctors at the hospital could do little to help those people because they didn’t have the supplies or the money to give them very much help. This scene showed the true horror of this war. At the end of the film Franti says he is on the side of peacemakers from whatever country they come from. He knows “I Know I’m Not Alone.”

  10. In response to what everyone has said and the film:
    This film resounds with so much vulnerability in Micheal Franti and the subject matter being discussed, how could anyone not be stimulated to reevaluate grounded personal opinions? The kids, the sounds, the people, the gunshots, the soldiers and the barricades are constantly pulling one to open up and see the truth of the matter when it comes to war. Nobody truly wins wars. For, war separates and divides one whole into halves that can never be equal in separation. Separation creates fear, paranoia and a disconnection with such power to dehumanize to the point of murder in the justification of fear's own security of itself. We are all human beings being mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and siblings. We all have the same desire to be loved and love in return. We all want a peaceful world. We all want to be free. So why the separation?
    This film brings the effects of that separation right to the forefront to anyone viewing it. How can anyone justify the Gaza Strip other than fear? How can anyone justify war other than fear? Fear seems to be the main justification coming out of everyone's mouth in defense of the barricades, the soldiers, the guns, the curfews and the violence. Through this film, one can see first hand not only the effects of war and oppression but also that the medium of music can be used to reconnect that separation.

  11. This film has really opened up my eyes beyond what the media has been feeding me about the war over the holy land.I had these ideas built up in my head that everyone in those surrounding countries had extreme hatred for one another but from watching Michael Franti's documentary "I Know I'm Not Alone" i have become more knowledgeable as to who is responsible for all of this seemingly unjustified violence. Although there are extremist is every culuture the majority of these people just could not understand why this fighting had to take place. they are all very similar in cultural backgrounds and seem to relate on so many things that it just seems foolish for them not to unite and stand together by finding some kind of peaceful agreement over this dispute.
    Throughout the documentary Michael uses his music as a way of communicating with the natives that he can not formally communicate with due to the language barrier. With the implication of just one arabic word Abibi, he created a song that brought everyone together through smiles and laughter. he got an inside look at the culture and how the war is really affecting the people. i feel that given there situation music is the greatest tool they have to communicate to one another that they share the same common goal of peace and prosperity. the music is a metaphor for peace and the territory wall is a metaphor for war. the two can not coexist for the people on the other side of the wall can not hear the music. the wall, war, must stop for people to come together as brothers.

  12. in reply to all:
    I have seen this film before and i have to say i really enjoyed seeing a point of view that is not what the governments/media tells us all on television. Franti was a true stand up guy for doing this. Trust me, this will really open your eyes as it did mine when I saw it. I have a friend who is a primary source to this whole situation so maybe thats why I have been aware of these things for quite some time now. For example. Everyone wants to place the "terrorist" tag on any and every person of middle eastern decent, when in reality we honestly could call a fair amount of americans "terrorist" to be perfectly honest. Franti did was most would not have done. He went into the line of fire and barely got burned, if at all.

    in response to Kaitlyn G.:
    yes he did bring some things to light that many did not know. Many are not aware of the natives having to live in "unstable" living situations. Also, many do not know that the suicide rate is not good at all.