A British documentary arguing U.S. neo-conservatives have exaggerated the terror threat is set to rock the Cannes Film Festival Saturday, the way "Fahrenheit 9/11" stirred emotions here a year ago.
"The Power of Nightmares" re-injected politics into the festival that seemed eager to steer clear of controversy this year after American Michael Moore won top honors in 2004 for his film deriding President Bush's response to terror.
At a screening late Friday ahead of its gala Saturday, "The Power of Nightmares" by filmmaker and senior BBC producer Adam Curtis kept an audience of journalists and film buyers glued to their seats and taking notes for a full 2-1/2 hours.
The film, a non-competition entry, argues that the fear of terrorism has come to pervade politics in the United States and Britain even though much of that angst is based on carefully nurtured illusions.
It says Bush and U.S. neo-conservatives, as well as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are exaggerating the terror threat in a manner similar to the way earlier generations of leaders inflated the danger of communism and the Soviet Union.
It also draws especially controversial symmetries between the history of the U.S. movement that led to the neo-cons and the roots of the ideas that led to radical Islamism -- two conservative movements that have shaped geopolitics since 1945.
Curtis's film portrays neo-cons Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld as counterparts to Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri in the two respective movements.
"During the Cold War conservatives exaggerated the threat of the Soviet Union," the narrator says. "In reality it was collapsing from within. Now they're doing the same with Islamic extremists because it fits the American vision of an epic battle."