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A debate alternative?

It looks like the big showdown between Barack Obama and John McCain won’t be taking place since McCain refuses to participate until all the economic problems go away. In the meantime you might want to drop by the Brattle Theatre which will be hosting a panel discussion that I’ll be moderating (okay, I admit it -- all that snarky self-righteousness is just a smokescreen for my own shameless self-promotion) for the United Nations Association Film Festival.

 Among those participating are filmmakers Iris Adler, Sam Kauffmann, Jamil Simon and Ian Slattery. Slattery’s powerful documentary “Soldiers of Conscience,” an even-handed and provocative look at troops serving in Iraq who have opted for conscientious objector status, screens as the Festival’s opening film tonight at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Adler’s poignant “Hidden Wounds,” about veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, screens Sunday also at the Kennedy School. Simon and Kauffmann will probably be screening shorts at the panel discussion.

The subject? “A Call to Action: Making Powerful International Documentaries.” It would have been a useful tie-in to the debate, which was supposed to focus on international issues and answer the question as to which candidate would be better equipped to handle foreign policy. Another question comes to mind: would anyone watching  the debate know the difference? It’s not exactly like there’s a glut of information in the media on the subject. Newspapers have cut back or eliminated their foreign bureaus. Cable and network news programs feature celebrity gossip, sensationalism and fulminating blowhards. So maybe that leaves documentary filmmakers as the best alternative source of news about the rest of the world. That is, of course, if anyone really cares.

If you do,  you might want to drop by.

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