The skewed Voices of Iraq


Nov. 2, 2004, midnight | By Christopher Consolino | 19 years, 7 months ago

New documentary just another editorial in disguise


Following the trend of this year's politically oriented documentaries, Voices of Iraq explores the controversial issue of whether or not President Bush's invasion was successful in liberating and rebuilding Iraq. Directed and filmed by more than 2,000 Iraqi citizens supplied with 150 DV cameras, the footage documents events from the uprising in Fallujah to preparing for the January election in September 2004.

The film has an even balance between shots of the various Iraqi cities and interviews conducted by those with the cameras. The first several interviews conducted by Iraqis might fool the audience into thinking Voices of Iraq really is an unbiased and balanced documentary as Iraqis both curse and praise American troops. Some of the anti-American responses are gruesome, as one woman shows her small child's scars from being shot in the arm and stomach by an American soldier. Others include Iraqis just cursing America. However, soon after the beginning of the film, the shots that convey a negative reaction to American occupation disappear, and the interviewers all just happen to ask the same question: ''Is Iraq better now than under Saddam?''

A great deal of the documentary is devoted to Iraqis expressing their gratitude for being liberated from Saddam. The producers also include several sorts of smiling children yelling phrases such as ''Iraq very good'' and police officers repeating ''Bush good! Bush good!''

Executive producer Eric Manes and co-producers Martin Kunert and Archie Drury go about proving that the U.S. public is wrong to think that Iraqi citizens disapprove of the occupation. They show headlines from major publications and shots convening a completely different situation in the background, insinuating that The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and the Associated Press not only augmented the truth but lied about the situation in Iraq.

The producers also provide insight into the Saddam regime by including segments from his army's recruiting videos, which show men and women having their arms removed, their tongues cut out and their heads chopped off. The short videos are supplemented by Iraqis telling their personal stories. One woman even recounts conditioning herself to be tortured by burning her hands with cigarettes while Saddam was in power.

Because the Iraqi citizens were not trained in using the cameras, the cinematography was somewhat unprofessional. The unstable camera shots do add to the urgent nature of the documentary, but the cameras, passed around throughout Iraq, never stay on a subject long enough to give real insight into the Iraqis' lives.

Despite the occasional tangents of somewhat anti-American commentary, Voices of Iraq is simply a conservative editorial in disguise. The more than 400 hours of raw footage shot by the people of Iraq unfortunately was not edited down to 79 minutes by the people of Iraq. Throughout the film, the producers simply forgo direct commentary in favor of a more subtle approach, including conveniently pro-Bush/America material.

Voices of Iraq (79 minutes) is not rated but does contain blood, violence and strong emotional material and is playing exclusively at the E Street Landmark Cinema.



Tags: print

Christopher Consolino. Christopher Consolino is a senior in Communication Arts Program. If Chris had free time, he would spend it practicing piano and taking pictures with his 15 year-old Minolta. He would also like to stress how much better wet process photography is than digital. Most of … More »

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