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Iraqi film stirs interest

Iraqi film stirs interest

A moving and inspiring document of the lives of everyday Iraqi citizens, Voices of Iraq has been drawing criticism from left wing media.

Producers, which include ex-US Marine Archie Drury, have vigorously defended the independence of this film after false claims that implied it was funded by the US Army as part of a PR campaign advocating the US occupation of Iraq.

Voices of Iraq was filmed and directed by the Iraqis themselves - thousands of them, from all walks of life, all over their country. The producers distributed more than 150 digital video cameras across Iraq, and condensed more than 400 hours of footage into an unprecedented, startling look at life in a war zone. It's a new genre of filmmaking.

This film gives a voice to a people we see on the news most nights. Silenced for 24 years under Saddam’s regime, we now meet a diverse range of Iraqis and hear in their own words how they are striving to build a civil society.

More than 1,500 ordinary Iraqis filmed themselves and their friends in every-day situations, having birthday parties, attending university, flirting, and talking about the future. We hear Iraqis say their country is less safe than it was under Hussein, and we meet a young girl named Farah who was shot in the arm and stomach by U.S. soldiers.

Tucked into the film along side this footage are videos made by Iraqi insurgents who urge Arabs to attack U.S. soldiers. These are juxtaposed with video made by Hussein’s son Uday that show extreme torture of Iraqi prisoners. Some Iraqis claim that the Abu Ghraib prison abuse was tame compared with what they endured under Hussein.

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The conservative Washington Times newspaper wrote that Voices of Iraq is a “potent negation” of anti-war views held by Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky. On the other hand the liberal San Francisco Chronicle said Voices of Iraq ”shows Iraqi society in all its complexity…for this reason alone (it) is a must-see for anyone still coming to terms with the chaos in Iraq.”

Producer Archie Drury says the film’s main point is to “humanize” the Iraqi people. As a Marine Drury served in the first Persian Gulf War where he got to know Iraqi children who walked up to his observation post. “Anyone who has met Iraqis, whether it’s in Baghdad or Berkeley, knows they’re more than the images that air on the nightly news.”

Voices of Iraq opens nationally from the 29th of September.

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