Duane Baughman and Johnny O’ Hara’s Bhutto is our DVD of the week

May 18, 2011

Out this week from First Run Features Duane Baughman and Johnny O’Hara’s extraordinary documentary Bhutto ($27.95, not rated), a film that works not only as a biography of the late Benazir Bhutto — the former prime minister of Pakistan and the first woman to head up the government of a Muslim nation who was murdered by an assassin in 2007 —but an excellent (and timely) primer on the history of Pakistan, the world’s sixth most populous nation.

It’s a complicated, but well-told story of how the nation’s various military rulers have engaged in brinksmanship — acquring billions of dollars in U.S. aid while at the also financing and arming Muslim jihadists in neighboring Afghanistan.

Bhutto — the daughter of a prime minister who was deposed and executed by a military junta — seemed to be the last best hope for returning Pakistan to a civilian-controlled Islamic democracy. She also became the leading voice of those Pakistanis who viewed religious extremists as a serious threat to Pakistan itself.

The rely on extensive archival footage, a previously unheard audio interview with Bhutto, and interviews with scholars, journalists, family members, politicians and diplomats. These include many major figures, such as Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who was elected head of state in the wake of her murder; former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and exiled former Pakistani general and dictator Pervez Musharraf.

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