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"Extremely illuminating."

-- Variety

 
 
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  International Film Circuit & Sven Kahn Films Present  


 
 

VIRTUAL JFK

Directed by Koji Masutani

US, 2008, 80 min, Color/B&W, All Video Formats

   
::  link to official website
::  watch the trailer
   
 

At the heart of this essential documentary is a critical and perennially relevant question:

Does it matter who is President of the United States
when it comes to issues of war and peace?

"Fascinating." - Sara Cardace, New York Magazine

"Captivating. Meticulous and wholly engrossing." - Ted Fry, The Seattle Times

"Compelling. Insightful. Highly convincing." – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

The film employs what Harvard historian Niall Ferguson calls "virtual history" to investigate one of the most debated "what if" scenarios in the history of U.S. foreign policy: What would President John F. Kennedy have done in Vietnam if he had not been assassinated in 1963 and was instead re-elected in 1964? The examples - the Bay of Pigs debacle, the crisis in Laos, the erection of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis and two critical junctures in managing Vietnam - are well known, as are Kennedy's actions and what subsequently transpired under Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson.

Combining footage from numerous Kennedy press conferences, in-depth interviews and a close reading of the documentary record, the film argues that critical decisions about the use of restraint and coercive diplomacy often require greater acts of courage than the use of force. Meanwhile, Kennedy’s dry wit and Masutani’s judicious editing make the film a compelling and surprisingly entertaining experience.

Virtual JFK takes its inspiration from Kennedy's famous statement that "we must never negotiate out of fear, but we must never fear to negotiate". It resonates powerfully with audiences who are invited to draw their own conclusions from the documentary record.

"An extended glimpse into a bygone era of statesmanship. In Masutani's selection of clips, watching Kennedy field astute questions and scathing critiques with thoughtfulness and wit proves extremely illuminating; his weighing of complex factors in an international situation and consciousness of how much rides on his decisions strikes a now unfamiliar note." - Ronnie Scheib, Variety

"What emerges is a complex image of a clever, sophisticated, disciplined man whose mind remains keen under enormous stress.” - Ted Fry, The Seattle Times

"A critical handbook for current and aspiring world leaders."
- Sergei Khrushchev, Son of the Former Soviet Prime Minister, Nikita Khrushchev

Director Koji Masutani is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University and trained previously with cinematographer Christopher Doyle in Hong Kong. Producer and narrator James Blight is a Professor of International Studies at the Watson Institute for International Studies and served as principal substantive adviser to Errol Morris during the production of The Fog of War, winner of the 2004 Academy Award® for Best Documentary. A book of the same title, written by the film’s producers James Blight, Janet Lang and David Welch was published by Rowman & Littlefield on January 28, 2009.

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