Friday, June 11, 2004

Film Making

Mike Tucker, who embedded himself with a unit in Iraq (yes, he embedded himself), sent this link which includes trailers to two films he shot in Baghdad.

This type of documentation interests me. It is what i can only call careful, containing a record of the film makers internal experience as much as it contains external information, even to the extent that the film maker is at times clearly uncomfortable maintaining a dispassionate position. Mike describes his presence during these two raids;

The first raids were surprisingly soft. Sometimes we just rolled up and knocked. One night we headed out to capture a general who was on the coalition "blacklist", when we arrived at his house, a team knocked on the door and went inside. He put his kids to sleep, kissed his wife and grabbed a pre-packed bag by the door. He knew they were coming.

On another night, while raiding the home of suspected bomb builders, the scene was very different. One of the suspects reached for a weapon. He was put down with a fist. He and his two brothers were brought out to the lawn. He pleaded to the camera as soldiers commanded him to shut-up, "I'm a journalist. You get this wrong. Do you call this freedom?" I felt confused. I somehow wanted to clear up what I thought could be a case of mistaken identity. Nothing was found in the house. The brothers were taken to Abu Ghraib--four months later they were still there waiting for charges or to be cleared.


During Mikes self-embedded experience he filmed freestyle rapping soldiers and another soldier who played the star spangled banner on an electric guitar on top of the Azimiya Palace (formerly belonging to Uday Hussein, occupied during Mikes stay by a field artillery battalion). On a later visit in February, to the same battalion, Mike found the rapping he had previously filmed had developed into spoken word poetry.

The effect all this has is one of surreality.

Send the soldiers home i say. More poetry, music and air guitar, less of the rest of it.

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