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:: One Day in September

This is the Academy Award-winning documentary about the terror of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. It was ten days into the Games when eight members of the Palestinian Black September group stormed the Israeli team quarters at the Olympic Village. They demanded the release of two hundred and thirty-six political prisoners. Less than twenty-four hours later, eleven Israelis, five terrorists, and a German policeman were dead.
Kevin MacDonald’s work is very meticulously researched. He splices interviews with those connected to the happenings – officials, grieving families, and the amazing coup of speaking to one of the terrorists, Jamil Al Gashey, who is in hiding somewhere in Africa. Two other terrorists who had survived the incident were later tracked down and killed. MacDonald produces a true-life thriller that is as compulsive as it is harrowing.
The documentary took two years to research, yielding fresh information and previously unseen footage. It is the involvement of Al Gashey that adds the extra credibility. Otherwise, some people could have labelled it as propaganda. It is a revelation because Al Gashey seems grateful for the opportunity to express why the actions brought attention to the plight of the Palestinians. It’s his first ever interview. “One Day In September” reminds us of the appalling behind-the-scenes actions; that terrorists had collaborated with the East Germans in gaining important access and knowledge. There was the shameful non-action of the German police and authorities, plus the insensitivity of the International Olympic Committee by allowing the Games to “go on”, while lives hung in the balance. But MacDonald makes this documentary remember the human story and it retains tension right through. It is an emotionally charged subject. The strength is its breakdown and reconstruction of the incident at its core. The narrative is engrossing and it has an eclectic mix of music to add to the drama. An impressive range of clips and stills are used in conjunction with voice-overs from Michael Douglas.
  In bringing to light the details of this atrocity with a wealth of original and archival footage, MacDonald has done history some service. “One Day In September” is an impressive documentary that demands viewing and discussion. In this Olympic year, particularly for Australians, it is easy to forget that the Games have always been a political event. There had been many non-violent acts of protests. But the 1972 Olympic Games tragically took things to an extreme outcome.