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Beyond Citizen Kane

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Director  Simon Hartog
Screenplay  Simon Hartog
Country  United Kingdom Brazil
8.4/10 IMDb

Genre  Documentary
Producer  John Ellis
Writer  Simon Hartog
Language  English
Beyond Citizen Kane movie poster

Release date  September 1993 (1993-09)
Cast  Leonel Brizola (Himself), Chico Buarque de Hollanda (Himself), Walter Clark (Himself), Dias Gomes (Himself), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Himself), Armando Nogueira (Himself)
Similar movies  Salt, The Omen, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, From Paris with Love, Chatô, The King of Brazil, Rabin, the Last Day
Tagline  Documentary, Military Dictatorship,

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Beyond Citizen Kane (1993) is a British documentary film directed by Simon Hartog, produced by John Ellis, and first broadcast on Channel 4.


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It details the dominant position of the Rede Globo media group, the largest in Brazil, and discusses the group's influence, power, and political connections. Globo's president and founder Roberto Marinho was criticised and compared to the fictional newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane, created by Orson Welles for the 1941 film Citizen Kane. According to the documentary, Marinho's media group engages in manipulation of news to influence public opinion.

Rede Globo objected to the film's position and tried to buy Brazilian rights, but Hartog had already made agreements to give non-TV rights to political and cultural groups in Brazil. While it is often claimed in Brazil that exhibiting the documentary in Brazil was forbidden by the justice, John Ellis claims that there are no legal restrictions in place, but the documentary can't be broadcast on TV in Brazil since it contains large sections of footage owned by Globo.

However, copies sold in Britain reached Brazil in the 1990s and circulated widely there. In addition, since the Internet boom of the early 21st century, the film has been released on sharing networks and had hundreds of thousands of views, as measured on YouTube and Google Video.

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The documentary tracks Globo's involvement with and support of the military dictatorship; its illegal partnership of the 1960s with the American group Time Warner (at the time Time-Life); Marinho's political manoeuvrings (which included airing on Jornal Nacional, the network's prime time news program, highlights of a 1989 presidential debate edited in a way as to favour Fernando Collor de Mello); and a controversial deal involving shares of NEC Corporation and government contracts. It features interviews with 21 people, including noted Brazilian politicians and cultural figures, such as politicians Leonel Brizola and Antonio Carlos Magalhães, singer-songwriter Chico Buarque, former Justice Minister Armando Falcão, politician Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who later was elected as president; and former employees Walter Clark and Armando Nogueira.

The title refers to the 1941 American film, Citizen Kane, whose fictional newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane was created by the director and actor Orson Welles. He was believed to have been based on the American publisher William Randolph Hearst, noted for creating yellow journalism and exploiting the press. The 1993 British documentary criticised Globo's president and founder Roberto Marinho for his close ties to the military dictatorship and suggestively compared him to the Kane figure for manipulation of news.

Dispute with Globo over British rights

The documentary was first shown in September 1993 in the United Kingdom. Broadcast of the programme had been delayed for a year as Rede Globo disputed the programme makers' right under British law to use short extracts from Globo programmes without permission, for the purposes of "critical comment and review".

During this period of legal manoeuvring, Simon Hartog, the director, died after a long illness. The process of editing was taken over by his co-producer John Ellis. When the film was eventually broadcast, the production company sold copies in the UK at cost. Many individuals in the Brazilian community in Britain sent copies to associates and friends in Brazil.

Censorship in Brazil

The film was also to be shown at the Museum of Image and Sound (MIS) of São Paulo. The MIS copy was confiscated after two screenings, according to a later account by Anhaia Geraldo Mello, then coordinator of the TV and Video Museum. He said the order came from the governor of São Paulo, Luiz Antonio Fleury Filho. The official story at the time was that the film was cancelled because of technical problems.

Through the 1990s, the film was illegally screened by universities, political groups and unions, as copies were made available informally. In 1995, Globo requested in court to confiscate copies of the film available at the library of the University of São Paulo, but it was over-ruled. The film was officially restricted to university groups until the 2000s (decade), when the internet boom in Brazil made it impossible to control access, as people could put it on the web (and did). (Brazil is the 5th country internationally by number of web users and 1st in time spent by individuals on internet use month.

Screenings and internet phenomenon

At the time of release, Rede Globo sought to buy the Brazilian rights to the programme, presumably seeking to suppress it. But, during production, as part of his working with groups in Brazil, Hartog had made agreements to give them the non-TV rights to ensure wide showing of the programme by both cultural and political organisations. Globo lost interest in buying the programme when they learned this, and as of 2015, it had not been broadcast on TV in Brazil.

But numerous VHS and DVD copies have circulated, and the documentary has become available on the internet, via peer-to-peer networks and video sharing websites, such as YouTube and Google Video (where it has been watched nearly 600,000 times). Contrary to popular belief, the movie is also legally available in Brazil, though copies are difficult to find, mostly buried in libraries and private collections.

On 20 August 2009, the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported that the network Rede Record bought the broadcasting rights of the documentary from producer John Ellis (media academic) for less than US$20,000. This happened after the Globo and Record attacked each other through their media during an investigation conducted by the Public Ministry against Edir Macedo and other high profile members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Macedo has owned Rede Record since 9 November 1989. On 14 February 2011, the newspaper Jornal do Brasil (quoting the network's spokesperson) reported that Rede Record would broadcast the documentary in 2012, on a date to be determined.


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