Where is Osama? He's in a cartoon, at Sundance

Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:24pm EST
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By Mary Milliken

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - After years of watching Osama bin Laden in grainy television footage, audiences have a chance to see a less chilling version of the al Qaeda leader -- as a cartoon character dancing to rap music and a video game villain.

That's how Morgan Spurlock, director of the 2004 documentary "Super Size Me," depicts bin Laden before embarking on a mission to find the No. 1 U.S. enemy in his film "Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?" that debuted this week at the Sundance Film Festival.

Bin Laden eludes the director -- as he has the U.S. military and the CIA -- but what Spurlock finds during his tour of the Middle East is the poverty and repression that have fueled radical Islamic militancy.

Yet, many people he interviewed rejected the idea that bin Laden, who was behind the September 11 attacks, has a firm grip on the region.

"As more and more people brought up the root causes that create an Osama bin Laden and radicals around the world, it becomes obvious that he is not that important," Spurlock told Reuters at the top U.S. film festival for independent movies.

What is important, Spurlock concludes, is ending the problems that led to bin Laden gaining the leadership of al Qaeda.

"Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?" opens in U.S. movie theaters in April. It is being released by The Weinstein Co., whose chief, Harvey Weinstein, paid around $2 million to acquire distribution after seeing just 15 minutes of footage.

Spurlock made a splash at Sundance with "Super Size Me," winning a directing award for his one-man assault on McDonald's in which he eats the fast food giant's meals for 30 days in a row and documents his weight gain and deteriorating health.   Continued...

<p>Director Morgan Spurlock poses for a portrait to promote his new film "Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?" during the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 22, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>