Oct 23, 2005

voices of iraq

I watched Voices of Iraq yesterday. I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't have any advance knowledge of what the movie was about other than the premise - give Iraqis some camcorders and let them shoot. Having done a bit of web searching after watching it, there are some that are portraying this as a conservative piece of propaganda in favor of the occupation. I don't know how true that is. It would be easy to slant the results in any direction through editing. It would be nice to get some sense of what was edited out.

Even if it is blatant propaganda it's still useful because regardless of whether the footage is preferentially culled or not, it's still real footage. It's not particularly heavy handed. If you have an anti-war bent it's easy to extract moments of horror from what is said and shown. I watched both Fahrenheit 911 and this and enjoyed both. There are a couple of interesting points that come out.

  • Regardless of whether the movie is slanted, there are clearly people in some places within Iraq who feel life is better. And some who feel the old regime was so bad that no amount of car bombings could make them think their lives are worse off. This isn't surprising but you don't hear or read many of these ideas in the press.
  • The Kurds seem to be doing relatively well compared to the rest of Iraq. I imagine this is because people have more important things on their hands than persecuting the Kurds.
  • Saddam in the press always seems so pathetic. There's moments when you almost feel sorry for how far he's fallen. The stories from of the torture victims as well as clips will eradicate any sense of compassion you might have for him and his sons and make your blood boil.
  • There is clearly a theory among some Iraqis that their neighbors are the ones supporting the terrorism. The belief is that any democracy that takes root in Iraq would lead to a domino effect on neighboring countries. The neighboring leaders would view this as bad. This is a case where it's not clear this movie is propaganda. On one hand you could view the movie makers as trying to make the administration seem less at fault for what is happening there. But I viewed this as making things worse. This is a much more intractable problem if every country surrounding Iraq is against any progress.

I thought the most telling comment made was mid-way through the movie however where a man answers a question. There is no context for this question. It's not clear what was being discussed beforehand. But the ambiguity makes the response all the more pointed. I think it sums up part of the predicament of Iraq. Especially for those who haven't 'learned' this. The question is, "what have you learned?"

"We had forgotten the value of our country"

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