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David Loren Cunningham: Wikis


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Born in Switzerland (February 24, 1971) and raised in Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i, David Loren Cunningham is an international filmmaker. Besides his documentary credits in more than 40 countries, Cunningham has also directed several feature films including To End All Wars (2001) and the TV miniseries The Path to 9/11 (2006). Cunningham is represented by the United Talent Agency.[1 ]


Background and Early Work

As a child, Cunningham traveled around the world visiting orphanages, refugee camps, and many other isolated locations with his parents in their work with NGOs. His parents, Loren and Darlene Cunningham,[2] are co-founders of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and the University of the Nations,[3] an international, interdenominational Christian organization with campuses in over 100 countries with a special emphasis on education for the developing nations.[4] These childhood experiences greatly influenced Cunningham's world view as a filmmaker.[5]

The Director studied film and graduated from both the University of Southern California and University of the Nations (Hawai'i, Amsterdam, and Santiago, Chile campuses).[1 ]

Cunningham traveled with his father and took the first American crew to the remote Pitcairn Islands to shoot his documentary: “Pitcairn: Mutineers in Paradise". The director's earlier films took him to Egypt and Australia, as well as Hollywood, California.[6] After filming parts of documentaries in over 40 countries,[7] Cunningham made his feature film debut with Beyond Paradise[8]. The film was a critical and commercial hit in the Pacific Region playing for three months in theatres in Hawaii.[9]

In March 2000, Youth With A Mission students donated $14,000 in seed money toward his $14 million dollar independent film To End All Wars[10][11] (p 176) The film was shot in Hawaii, Thailand, and Scotland and tells the true story of WWII allied prisoners in a POW camp in Thailand who secretly form a “jungle university” in the camp morgue. Praised by critics, the film stars Kiefer Sutherland and Robert Carlyle and performed notably well at film festivals including Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Heartland Film Festival, Hawaii International Film Festival, and Mill Valley Film Festival).[12] The film was picked up for distribution by Goldcrest and 20th Century Fox and launched Cunningham as a Hollywood Studio director.[13]

Since that time, Cunningham has made a number of movies, including the telefilm The Path to 9/11. He filmed After, under Moscow's Red Square in the secret tunnels built by Stalin.[14]


Cunningham is a member of the Travelers' Century Club, whose members can document visits to over 100 countries, and of the Directors Guild of America.[15]

The Path to 9/11 controversy

See also: Cyrus Nowrasteh-The Path to 9/11 Controversy and The Path to 9/11-Controversy.

Cunningham directed the controversial ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11. The made-for-TV docudrama dramatizes terrorist activities and U.S. government responses from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing through the events of 9/11. The film concludes with the 9/11 Commission's report card that criticized the government's response after the tragedy.[16] More than 25 million Americans tuned in over both nights to the docu-drama that aired without commercials.[17] The Path to 9/11 was nominated for 7 Emmys.[18]

The 40 million dollar docu-drama created a media frenzy when the Clintons challenged the depiction of Bill Clinton’s administration in the handling of terrorist Osama bin Laden.[19] The docu-drama was praised by supporters as being "a well-crafted dramatic interpretation"[20] and condemned by critics for scenes which portrayed events which never occurred, and supported a story line which would lead viewers to incorrect conclusions.[21][22]

Official promotions of the film made varying claims about its factual basis: Fox TV on Sept 6, 2006, quoted the producers as saying the show was based "solely and completely on the 9/11 Commission report."[23] However, On ABC's Path to 9/11 blog, Cunningham emphasized: "This is a movie or more specifically a docudrama. Meaning, it is a narrative movie based on facts and dramatized with actors."[24]

Max Blumenthal reported in "The Nation" that Cunningham's Path to 9/11 had been heavily promoted by right wing activist David Horowitz and the conservative Liberty Film Festival and that ABC CEO David Iger had initiated a last-minute investigation and edit of the film.[25]

The New York Times reported that Mr. Platt [the producer of Path to 9/11] and Hope Hartman, a spokeswoman for ABC, said "the political and religious affiliations of the two men (Cunningham and Nowrasteh, the writer) had nothing to do with and did not influence the mini-series in any way."[26]

Mr. Nowrasteh defended Cunningham in an column, arguing that criticism of the director's association with his father's Christian mission was akin to McCarthyism, in which "the merest hint of a connection to communism sufficed to inspire dark accusations."[27]

To date, ABC has not released the mini-series to dvd. Oliver Stone, a known liberal, has expressed his concern over ABC's decision, stating this is "a dangerous precedent, to allow a movie to be buried".[28] A documentary, Blocking the Path to 9/11[29] was made about the events surrounding the production of the mini-series.

The Film Institute

The Film Institute (TFI), a "non-profit association geared toward educating filmmakers from the developing world, linking like-minded filmmakers, and focusing resources and talent for social change", was established by Cunningham and several University of the Nations alumni in 2004.[13] Though ABC asserted that the network itself was the source of funding for The Path to 9/11, TFI became embroiled in the controversy when several bloggers claimed it funded or influenced the movie.[30]

TFI's primary purpose is to help aspiring Christian filmmakers through internships, scholarships, and seminars. Six unpaid TFI interns worked on The Path to 9/11 set among the approximately 140 other paid workers in order to gain experience about the filmmaking business.[31]

Original members of the group, Mark and Krista Harris stated on their website, which was later removed, that TFI is a "auxiliary branch of Youth With A Mission... TFI's first project is a doozy: simply being referred to as: The Untitled History Project,(later renamed Path to 9/11) it is already being called the television event of the decade and not one second has been put to film yet."[32]

According to Mark Harris' speech at a Latin American Youth With A Mission conference: "One goal of TFI is to fast-track U of N School of Digital Film [1] interns, placing them within the film industry, so that they can begin to impact and transform Hollywood from the inside out". Harris also stated that he was a volunteer coordinating TFI's interns. He rebutted the use of his quote as proof that TFI initiated or funded The Path to 9/11.[33]

Current work

Cunningham's most recent project, Hakani [2], is a "docu-drama" telling the story of an 8-year-old boy's rescue of his little sister ("Hakani") who, because of birth defects, was to be put to death by their tribe in the Amazon. The film, also funded by Youth with a Mission, was shot with members from 8 Amazonian tribes. In Brazil, the film has played a part in a controversial indigenous peoples' rights campaign.[34] While proponents of the film have made claims that it is "true", the Brazilian who "adopted" Hakani have readily admitted they can't give evidence beyond medical records, pictures and the word of Hakani's brother. Additionally, Enock Freire, who worked on the film, acknowledged that the film is a fiction based on real facts.[35 ][36] On the other hand, there is a lot of indigenous leaders that have admitted that infanticide still happen today. These leaders have agreed to fight against this practice. This position is controversial because infanticide and intentional killing of babies and children has been a cultural practice for centuries, and to refuse it means to change a deep tradition. And Survival International has pointed out that the Hakani film is being used by Youth with a Mission to facilitate their ministries in the area.[35 ] The film has been used by supporters of a proposed Brazilian law that would allow the government to forcefully take indigenous children that are considered at risk because of birth defects or other reasons and respect their right to live above all.

Director - Filmography


  1. ^ a b David L. Cunningham-IMDB biography
  2. ^ Cunningham, Loren. Christian Heroes: Then & Now, p. 163
  3. ^ University of the Nations - accreditation
  4. ^ Cunningham's IMDB biography
  5. ^ Cunningham's bio on IMDB
  6. ^ Honolulu Star-Bulletin Features
  7. ^ Lile Entertainment Group Feature Film "AFTER" Makes its World Premiere at American Film Institute - AFI FEST - Hollywood
  8. ^ Beyond Paradise - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ NY Times Review of "Beyond Paradise"
  10. ^ Honolulu Star-Bulletin Features
  11. ^
  12. ^ The Box Office Prophets-"To End All Wars"
  13. ^ a b Cunningham's IMDB bio
  14. ^ The movieAfter
  15. ^ Directors Guild of America
  16. ^ ABC's Synopsis of The Path to 9/11
  17. ^ LA Times article: "Is Clinton's candidacy blocking the Path to 9/11?"
  18. ^ Buzz Sugar: "Announcing the Primetime Emmy Nominees"
  19. ^ "Clinton Blasts 9/11 Film"
  20. ^,Victor Davis Hanson
  21. ^ "Clinton Blasts 9/11 Film, Amid Report of Changes",, September 8, 2006
  22. ^ "Path to 9/11 Tells a Sad, Riveting Tale", MSNBC, September 12, 2006.
  23. ^ Think Progress » ABC Tells Fox That Path to 9/11 ‘Is Based Solely and Completely on the 9/11 Commission Report’
  24. ^ Path to 9/11 Blog by David L. Cunningham.
  25. ^ "ABC 9/11 Docudrama's Right-Wing Roots", Max Blumenthal,, September 11, 2006
  26. ^ Edward Wyatt, New York Times
  27. ^ "The Path to Hysteria" @, Cyrus Nowrasteh, September 18, 2006.
  28. ^ IMDB's News for Path to 9/11: from Studio Briefing, "Liberal Filmmaker Oliver Stone Supports Conservative Filmmaker"
  29. ^ "Blocking the Path to 9/11" Documentary website
  30. ^ "The TV Guy"
  31. ^ YWAM Founder's report
  32. ^ Youth With A Mission and the Making of a Fraudulent Film
  33. ^
  34. ^ Huffington Post article on Hakani
  35. ^ a b
  36. ^
  37. ^ David L. Cunningham-IMDB Filmography
  38. ^ IMDB record
  39. ^ David L. Cunningham-IMDB Filmography
  40. ^ David L. Cunningham-IMDB Filmography
  41. ^ David L. Cunningham-IMDB Filmography
  42. ^ David L. Cunningham-IMDB Filmography
  43. ^ David L. Cunningham-IMDB Filmography

External links



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