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Naomi Klein Disowns Winterbottom Adaptation of Shock Doctrine

Author and activist disagrees with documentary's take on her critique of 'disaster capitalism', to be screened on Channel 4

by Sam Jones

Naomi Klein has disowned Michael Winterbottom's forthcoming screen adaptation of her bestselling book, The Shock Doctrine, by asking to be removed from the credits of the documentary after serious differences arose between her and the British director.

Naomi Klein has asked to be removed from the credits of Michael Winterbottom's documentary. Photograph: Pawe Kula/EPA The Canadian journalist, activist and author of No Logo had originally been slated to narrate the film and act as a consultant.

But it is thought Klein became unhappy with Winterbottom's take on her critique of "disaster capitalism" and western economic cynicism after seeing early cuts of the film. She is understood to have felt the documentary - which accuses the US and other countries of exploiting natural and man-made catastrophes in developing countries to push through free-market reforms from which they stand to gain - would have benefited from more interviews and less narration.

Klein was not present for the film's premiere at the Berlin film festival and makes no mention of it on her website.

She told the Independent that serious differences in opinion had emerged between her, Winterbottom, and the film's co-director, Mat Whitecross.

"I can confirm that the original idea was for me to write and narrate the film," she told the newspaper. "For that to have worked out, however, there would have needed to be complete agreement between the directors and myself about the content, tone and structure of the film."

She added: "As often happens, we had different ideas about how to tell this story and build the argument. This is Michael's adaptation of my book, and I didn't want there to be any confusion about that. I wish the film success."

A spokeswoman for Channel 4, which will broadcast the film on 1 September, said the documentary "was always intended to be Michael Winterbottom's interpretation of Naomi Klein's thesis and she was closely consulted throughout the film-making process". She added that the broadcaster was "very happy with the final result".

Although an early review of the film by the Hollywood Reporter described it as "a rough, disjointed doc that fails to get across Naomi Klein's arguments against disaster capitalism", Variety found it superior to many contemporary musings on the same subject.

"Judged against the many other recent docus that also critique the machinations of modern capitalism, Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross's [film] looks eminently sober, polished and persuasive," it said.

The Shock Doctrine argues that big corporations in search of new markets benefit when governments import the neoliberal economic system, often as a result of pressure from the US, but that this often has catastrophic consequences for ordinary people. Political leaders have turned to "brutality and repression", it contends, to crush protests against their ideologically inspired programmes of privatisation, deregulation and tax cuts.

The Shock Doctrine was commissioned by More4 from Revolution Films/Renegade Pictures. Winterbottom's previous work includes 24 Hour Party People and Welcome to Sarajevo.

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