Conspiracies are not the result of our contemporary times, therefore conspiracy theories are likewise not a recent invention of the media. Man has been bathing himself in conspiratorial activities, both actual or just imagined, for so long a time that this tendency has become integral part of his way of establishing relations with reality.
Every now and then new theories emerge and for each and any of them the public opinion splits into those who believe in them and those who just don’t. Very often there isn’t even need of a well-pondered or strongly supported theory to divide the mass into those factions, as most of the times people decide or not to trust out of preconceived ideas. Of course, there is also the third faction that simply shrugs and goes on with its own business. Every time a documentary exposing what is supposedly going on behind the scenes appears, people will generally watch it not to acquire information, but to reinforce their previous preconceptions.
Feathered Cocaine is one of those documentaries whose main intent is not to inform the public for the sake of information in itself, but to prove a theory. This is why many viewers accused it to be biased even if some of the information contained in it definitely is of great relevance. Starting off as a film about falconry, Arnarson’s and Hardarson’s feature turns out to be rather about international polical intrigues and terrorism.
Alan Parrot has been a falconer for a long time. An American citizen that due to his personal passion for falcons spent many years in Teheran, in the Middle East — even employed by the Shah –, Parrot has a major concern not only as a trainer but also as a lover of these animals: that of smuggling. Falcon smuggling is one of the most lucrative illegal businesses, together with drugs and arms trade, although not as widely acknowledged. But not only the illegal factor and the cruelty towards these noble beasts have been concerning Mr. Parrot to the point of openly taking action: smuggling represents a threat to the survival of the falcons population worldwide — not only the illegal trade per se, but also the genetic engineering often involved with it. Most illegal routes lead to Middle Eastern clients, to an elite that in the costly hobby of falconry has founded its status symbol for centuries.
In the course of his battle against smugglers, Parrot uncovers a network linking together Bin Laden, Middle Eastern governments and the CIA. Osama, a witness affirms, is in Iran and both Iran’s and USA’s governments are aware of it.
The documentary by Arnarson and Hardarson is not as refined and focused as it should have been. Questions regarding its primary subject — falcon smuggling vs preservation — are soon forgotten in favor of more or less sensational revelations; voice over should have been employed more, in stead of outdated captions; also, the film drags on for too long. Maybe the intentions of the film-makers were sincere, but the result is a little too rough — thus resulting “amateur” and factious — to be taken seriously by just anybody. Detractors will find plenty of reasons to criticize.
Ultimately, the message that Feathered Cocaine wants to deliver to its audience is not strictly about falcon smuggling or the uncovering of evil plots conceived for ideological reasons. It is by far more pessimistic than that. Feathered Cocaine is one of many untimely records of corruption and greed. Untimely, but at the same time well-rooted in our turbulent globalized age. Power is one and the same anywhere, and terrorism is not but an excuse and a disguise to put the public opinion under pressure. All mechanisms are in favor of the profit of few. Escalation of terror is not going to stop, because involved interests are increasing their magnitude every day. Evidence of this trend is what happened in recent times, with tragedies whose connotations are still unknown to common people; facts like 9/11 are bound to happen again and again, because nobody among those holding power — not only the governments, but the lobbies and the organizations connecting them all — is at this point different in pursuing his main interests. And of course, this interest can be summed up with one name only: Money.
This is the state of things, and although figures totally devoted to their cause like that of Alan Parrot always offer a glimmer of hope, it’s very unlikely that with will to uprightness and self-determination alone the situation can be changed anytime soon.
Title: Feathered Cocaine
Director: Örn Marino Arnarson, Thorkell S. Hardarson
Runtime: 80 minutes