Friday, September 15, 2006

My Country; War Tapes; In Shifting Sands; The Dreams of Sparrows

My Country, My Country:
Distributor: Zeitgeist
Production: Praxis
Director: Laura Poitras, 97 min
No rating but would probably correspond to PG-13

A solo filmmaker, working alone, tracks the family of an Iraqi doctor during the days leading up to the general elections of January 30, 2005. The director gave a Q&A after the performance at the Avalon in Washington DC on September 2, 2006, and filming this was quite harrowing. There is some discussion of the politics of the election, with the Sunnis withdrawing. But the real value of the film is the opportunity to see the streets of Baghdad as in no other film, since no tourist can go there now.

The War Tapes (2006, from Sen-Art/Scrantom-Lacey, dir. Deborah Scranton, follows several national guardsmen from New Hampshire during their tour in Iraq. The film has graphic footage of poorer sections of Baghdad after the mortar attacks, and the soldiers keep their graphic diaries by hand, as they do not seem to have access to blogging. The family reunions at the end are quite emotional. Early in the film, some video of the WTC site after 9/11, shot by one soldier Mike Moriarity, appears. This film was part of the 2006 DC International Film Festival.

The Dreams of Sparrows (2005, Harbringer/Iraq Eye Group, dir. Haydar Daffar, Hauder Mousa Daffar, 74 min) shows the lives of ordinary Iraqis in Baghdad and Fallujah during American "occupation".

Im Shifting Sands (2001) is an older documentary about Iraq by former UNSCOM Chief Weapon's Inspector Scott Ritter. I saw this in an international film festival in Minneapolis in 2001 in the University of Minnesota Bell Auditorium. Ritter maintains that Saddam Hussein had lost most of his ability to make WMD's after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Ritter maintains that the government tried to suppress this film as it would interfere with its plans to invade Iraq which, as we know, were carried out starting in March 2003.

The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends (2006, Focus Features, dir. Patricia Foulkrod, 78 min, R) recalls "An Inconvenient Truth" by its title and presents an even more disturbing truth: that the military hoodwinks young adults as "volunteers" into a backdoor draft, trains them to become killing machines, and abandons them when they return. The film consists mostly of interviews of returned soldiers, and shows horrific images of wounds.

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