(directors: Steve Connors and Molly Bingham; cinematographer: Steve Connors and Molly Bingham; editor: David Emanuele; music: Richard Horowitz; Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Daniel J. Chalfen; The International Film Circuit; 2007-USA-in Arabic with English subtitles)
“A chilling rare glimpse of the U.S. Iraqi occupation from the side of the insurgents.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
In their debut film co-directors, Molly Bingham (an American Harvard grad, who worked for Human Rights Watch) and Steve Connors (a former Brit soldier who saw first-hand the botched bloody UK occupation of Northern Ireland), who were freelance photojournalists in Iraq before the war started, bravely stayed on to tell the story of the early days of the Iraqi resistance in April 2003 after the fall of Baghdad and President Bush’s misspoken “Mission Accomplished” speech there in May. They tell the story through a series of blurred, faceless, and nameless characters with handles like “The Teacher,” “The Warrior,” and “The Imam.” The interviewees tell the resistance tale like it is from their narrow viewpoint and why they are so eager to kill American soldiers. The filmmakers keep their veil of anonymity intact so they can’t be identified but it gives voice, both male and female, Shias and Sunnis, to the enemy’s impressions of the occupation. Whether this is all true certainly can be questioned (they claim there’s no sectarian schism, which is hardly true; but I see no reason not to think that most of what has been said is true). If so it gives us a clear insight into events–something our timid media, for the most part, never got right at the time and still doesn’t understand that 85% of the insurgent’s motivation to resist the American opposition is religious with other factors including 13% patriotism (nationalism), and the rest divided up over factors of tribal retribution, Ba’athist and personal revenge reasons. There are only 3% who are foreigners involved, but the borders are open and money and weapons from foreign Arab countries are pouring in to support the resistance.
The conversations by the insurgents are fervent and candid, an eye-opening account of events–which should dispel once-and-forever any lingering misconception that the Iraq insurgency is mainly the work of outsiders or that the Americans would be greeted as liberators and flowers would be thrown instead of RPGs and IEDs fired. The other thing it does very well is leave the viewer with a clarity as to why the violence is still ongoing even to this day, and why immediate American withdrawal is the only sane solution.
It’s a chilling rare glimpse of the U.S. Iraqi occupation told from the side of the insurgents, clearly showing the enemy’s logic for their continual violence is just as irrational as the American reasons for going to war and still remaining as occupiers. It’s hard to avoid the Bush administration’s incompetence and the infamous Abu Ghraib torture saga, as one can see the enemy’s frustration over being occupied and what a big screw up it was for the Americans to blindly follow our misled leaders into such a mind-boggling predicament where history shows us that because of the Iraqi’s social and religious traits violent resistance to the occupation was inevitable with no end in sight.
It was filmed, over a ten-month period, in the teashops and alleyways of the Al Adhamiya district of northern Baghdad, a predominantly Sunni neighborhood that was never favored by the Ba’athist regime.
REVIEWED ON 12/10/2007 GRADE: B+