Friday, December 10, 2004

Beacon No. 12: Iraq Talks Back Real Soon, Part 2


Producers Archie Drury, Eric Manes and Martin Kunert have made a film called Voices of Iraq. They start by transporting 150 camcorders to Iraq and give them out to Iraqis:

The producers of Voices of Iraq distributed over 150 DIGITAL VIDEO CAMERAS across the entire country to enable everyday people - mothers, children, teachers, sheiks and even insurgents - to document their lives and their hopes amidst the upheaval of a nation being born.

Beginning amidst the Falluja uprising in April, going through the marshlands in the South, the Kurdish communities in the North and ending in September of this year, thousands of ordinary Iraqis became filmmakers to reveal the richness, complexity and emotion of their lives.

Voices of Iraq is an unprecedented film. This new documentary genre offers a unique window into what is happening in Iraq. Voices of Iraq has allowed Iraqis to tell their own story.

Martin Kunert told me that practically all the cameras were returned, giving the producers 400 hours of footage to stuff into a documentary. Since the footage was date-stamped, they could overlay it with Western newspaper headlines from the same day, highlighting disconnections between image and coverage.

You should view the trailer at the Voices of Iraq site for a taste. Basically, a Humvee gets torched and just sits there burning—until the media arrive. A crowd magically materializes and starts throwing rocks at the burning vehicle, an insurgent testifies for the cameras, and God is undoubtedly found to be great. Then the journos leave—and the crowd disperses. Although I haven't seen the film yet, there are likely important lessons here in the soft and hard power of Middle Eastern crowds.

Kunert says he, Drury and Manes are looking for a distributor. Until then it's available on Netflix, though, so interested people can get the Voices of Iraq DVD delivered.

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