I was intrigued into putting this movie into my Netflix queue, partly because of the idea of passing out over a hundred digital cameras for the Iraqis to use to record themselves, back in 2004. I did wonder how in the heck, if these cameras were truly just passed out to be passed around, the cameras would come BACK! And who did the editing? What if the person who recorded was killed? Would ALL the recordings be used? As I was watching I noticed that the editing had a definite slant.
Seemed like the Iraqis in a whole lot of cases thought they were talking to an American.
Seemed like the emphasis was on Saddam Hussein's regime. One part even said that Abu Ghraib wasn't that bad compared to what Saddam did, because what man wouldn't want his penis touched?
There were very few shots of the American military and never in an uncomplimentary fashion.
There were a few references to Fallujah, which you may remember was the scene of the Fallujah massacre, but only with a girl saying that she left Fallujah and wished she was back home.
The setup was done with headlines quoted from, for example, the Washington Post and some dire thing, followed by happy-butt shots of people talking about how much they loved the Americans being there. Or there were film clippings from terrorists who wanted to kill everybody. It was, in short, thoroughly a love letter to how great it was that Americans had invaded Iraq.
At the very end of it, I saw that the movie was produced by Voices of Iraq and Booyah Producttions. I turned to hub and said "Booyah? Isn't that what the Marines say? Is this actually produced by the military as some sort of propaganda?"
So I looked it up-from Infowars.
"Voices of Iraq"was promoted as a project in which "thousands of ordinary Iraqis become filmmakers" as the cameras are passed hand to hand and – amazingly – all returned to the filmmakers. But Archie Drury, the Gulf War vet and actor who went to Iraq with the cameras, told me that he actually shot some of the footage himself.
Drury also said that the Iraq Foundation was "extremely helpful" to him as he tried to figure out how to get around and who to give the cameras to. The foundation also supplied the torture footage.
The Iraq Foundation, based in Washington, is funded by the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy.
Not surprisingly, Drury got uncommon access to Iraqis and Iraqi leaders favored by the U.S. government. Among the notables interviewed, but not identified, is Sharif Ali, the cousin of Iraq's last king. Drury also interviewed a Sheik Aku Bezei, a man he says was the most powerful tribal leader in Fallujah. On Nov. 6, a Sheik Bezei was killed for collaborating with American forces.
I noticed that in the movie. They would show people that were talking about this and that, but didn't identify most of them.
Jeff Riechert, the Magnolia Pictures contact for "Voices of Iraq," said that while his company is technically distributing the film, Manning, Selvage & Lee (MS&L) is coordinating the publicity. MS&L has the public affairs contract for the U.S. Army. The firm's revamp of the Army's image with the reality TV-style "Army of One" ad campaign is credited with enabling the Army to meet its recruiting goals after a long slump. According to MS&L Managing Director Joe Gleason, he and his colleagues also deliver key targeted messages about the war in Iraq to specific constituencies.
Was the left-leaning art house crowd one of those constituencies? Is the government hiring documentary filmmakers to propagandize the U.S. population?
I think so. But the film is so poorly done and so clearly one sided that it fails as a propaganda tool. I mean, if you REALLY passed out cameras to the populace on a random basis, you would have at least SOME more citizens complaining about, say, the American presence, the bombings, security issues, Abu Ghraib, and more. But having people minimize Abu Ghraib showed how false the movie is. Here's Missing Voices in the Iraqi Debate.
Nobody involved with the film is willing to say who initially put up the money for the film or how they ended up represented by the Army's PR firm.
So nice to know that our tax money was being used by the Bush administration, especially before that election, to try to sell the American public on baloney