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SFIFF Review: World Premiere of Terrorist-Savvy 'Informant'

Thompson on Hollywood By David D'Arcy | Thompson on Hollywood April 23, 2012 at 4:02PM

"Informant" has timing on its side. The documentary by Jamie Meltzer, told mostly in the voice of Brandon Darby, is an activist’s journey from the post-Katrina ruins of New Orleans, to Venezuela and Colombia, and back the United States, where Darby sours on his former comrades and ends up working for the FBI.
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Informant

"Informant" has timing on its side. The documentary by Jamie Meltzer, told mostly in the voice of Brandon Darby, is an activist’s journey from the post-Katrina ruins of New Orleans, to Venezuela and Colombia, and back the United States, where Darby sours on his former comrades and ends up working for the FBI.  Two men are in prison now, thanks to his testimony, which identified them as having made bombs that were intended to be used at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

Identifying them is the official story.  Darby may have done much more. It could be that the bombs would not have been made, or the idea would not have gotten that far, had Darby not been in on the planning. The same questions about the involvement of an informant could have been raised in any number of prosecutions of terrorists where FBI informants played a role.

Is he a traitor? Today Darby is a hero at Tea Party events and religious congregations. He says he’s acting out of patriotism. Meltzer's film suggests that a political tour of Venezuela and Colombia could have resulted in some version of post-traumatic syndrome that set Darby away from his original alignment with radicals that moved from New Orleans to Austin to the next confrontation.

Brandon Darby is unrepentant. We can assume now that there must be others like him at many of the Occupy encampments all over the country. "Informant" is a revelation because it comes from the horse’s mouth.
 

This article is related to: Reviews, Festivals, Documentary, San Francisco International Film Festival, Festivals


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.