W H A T :
Director Deborah Scranton, 2006, USA, color, 97 minutes.
W H E N :
Wednesday, March 14 - 7:00 pm
W H E R E :
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A D M I S S I O N :
There are two ways to get tickets:
(If the above link does not work for you, cut and paste the URL into your browser window. Alternatively, go to dfalink.com, click on events and your zipcode - you should be taken to the War Tapes RSVP page.)
Out-takes & NYT Review
About the Film
NOTE TO PARENTS: This film is not rated. We suggest a "PG-13" at minimum and more likely an "R" -- this is about WAR, with strong language, scenes of combat, death and destruction.
How does one shoot a weapon and film a war at the same time? It is not easy, but the soldier/cameramen in Charlie Company give us an insider's perspective that transcends the contrived realism of "Saving Private Ryan" or the brief clips on the evening news. A soldier's camera bounces around the insides of a Hummer as it plows through a hail of bullets or races through the clouds of car bombs detonating a few yards away. An incinerated body slumps from a shredded vehicle. A voice shouts "Sgt. Smith is down! Sgt. Smith is down!
Director Scranton's volunteer cameramen represent a range of personalities, backgrounds and political beliefs. What binds them together is their desire to be in the thick of the action. The focus is not on the government's strategy, or lack thereof. It's on individual guardsmen before, during, and after their time in Iraq. And what we see is not so much war as hell but war as a corrosive mixture of hell and limbo, with carnage so ubiquitous and random that it might be laughably absurd if it weren't so tragic.
Excerpts from the fimmaker's synopis and production notes continue in the next panel, below.
Since the war in Iraq began, CWC has considered numerous documentaries about the war. Some of them were well-made, most took strong positions and virtually all were available to the public through a variety of sources. Previously, we've elected to present rarely-seen high-profile classic films that examine somewhat similar themes at different points in recent history: THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS and ARMY OF SHADOWS.
Last year two excellent documentaries about Iraq emerged that offer unique points of view, are cinematically creative and highly informative. Both films made the Oscar short list, qualifying for consideration in the feature-length documentary category at the 79th Annual Academy Awards and IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS was elevated to one of the five Oscar nominees. And, both did well in major festival competition - THE WAR TAPES won Best Documentary at the 2006 Tribecca Film Festival, and IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS was winner of Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Editing awards at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival documentary competition.
War may be waged by nations, but it is experienced by people, which is exactly why we've selected these two particular films: both are about everyday people and how they react and survive in times of war. These are people with whom the majority of Americans have little actual contact - people we read about or see on TV, people from disparate cultures: our soldiers on the battlefield and their families back home; and the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish peoples of Iraq.
Here's another plus: these filmmakers believe that audience members have sufficient intelligence to form their own reasoned opinions, without the influence of bombastic diatribe. Neither film takes a position for or against the war, but instead allows the viewer to digest the material without polemicizing or attempting to indoctrinate.
Cincinnati World Cinema is proud to present THE WAR TAPES, on March 14, and IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS on March 20 and 21. As the subject matter is complimentary but the perspectives are diverse, we believe your experience will be enriched by viewing both films. When you attend these films we hope you will stay for the post-film discussions and share your thoughts. All opinions and viewpoints are welcome and will be respected.
Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Connie served as an officer in the United States Air Force with postings overseas that included travel to seventeen countries and service in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Her military accomplishments and honors include Officer of the Year, Tempelhof Airport, West Berlin; the Air Force Commendation Medal (three times); Best Combat Crew Communications Branch (two times); and the Outstanding Unit Award (three times). In addition, she is a charter member of the Women In Military Service for America Memorial.
After her military service Connie attended the University of Cincinnati College of Law, and interned with the Hamilton County Prosecutor's office and Public Defender Commission while a student. She started her own law firm in 2005 and is currently a partner with Webb & Pillich in Montgomery, Ohio. In addition to her practice, raising two children and involvement with community educational and service organizations, she has found the time to run for public office.
Ms. Pillich is an advocate for veteran's rights and equitable treatment after discharge and her concern for veterans and their families stimulated her interest in CWC's documentary films about Iraq.
Building on a BSIE degree from Ohio State University, Dave has been involved with manufacturing management for almost thirty years. Currently with the Huffy Corporation as Vice President, Global Supply Chain, he is well-versed in the areas of procurement, operations planning, data management and business intelligence.
Dave and his wife, Barb Freas, reside in Montgomery and are the proud parents of son Alan, a recent college graduate. In addition to his corporate responsibilities, he has been active in community and church affairs and progressive politics. Dave is a relentless advocate for accountability and ethics in government, a skilled grass-roots organizer and discussion facilitator, and has a keen interest in U.S. foreign policy and practices.
Excerpts from the synopis and production notes at the official website
In March 2004, just as the insurgency strengthened, several members of one National Guard unit arrived in Iraq, with cameras. THE WAR TAPES is the result - a uniquely collaborative film from a team that includes Director Deborah Scranton, Producer Robert May (THE FOG OF WAR) and Producer and Editor Steve James (HOOP DREAMS).
THE WAR TAPES is the first war movie filmed by soldiers themselves, Operation Iraqi Freedom as filmed by Sergeant Steve Pink, Sergeant Zack Bazzi and Specialist Mike Moriarty and other soldiers. Zack is a Lebanese-American university student who loves politics, traveling, and being a soldier. Steve is a carpenter with a sharp sense of humor and aspirations to write, which he does with insight and candor. Mike is a resolute patriot and father of two, who rejoined the army after 9/11. All of them leave women at home-a mother, a girlfriend, and a wife.
While they battled unconventional forces, they recorded events that conventional journalists have been unable to capture. They mounted tripods on gun turrets, inside dashboards and used POV mounts on their Kevlar helmets and vests. They filmed all of the footage in Iraq, which amounted to over 800 hours of tape. Zack, Steve, and Mike's unit, Charlie Company, 3rd of the 172nd Infantry Mountain Regiment, was based in the deadly Sunni Triangle, under constant threat of ambush and deadly IED attacks. They lived through over twelve hundred combat operations and two hundred and fifty direct enemy engagements. That's almost one a day.
The soldiers were not picked by casting agents or movie producers. They selected themselves. One hundred and eighty soldiers in Charlie Company of the New Hampshire National Guard were given the opportunity. Ten chose to take it on, and ultimately 21 soldiers filmed for the project, volunteering to share their eyes with America, not knowing where this experiment would take them. This is not reality TV, and it's not mainstream media war coverage. This is real war. You can feel the difference from the first frame of The War Tapes.
The film neither romanticizes nor demonizes its three main characters: Specialist Michael Moriarty, Sgt Steven Pink and Sgt Zack Bazzi. The soldiers in the film have families and fears, senses of humor and a capacity for anger. One, Spc Moriarty, describes himself as deeply patriotic - but the men are not wide-eyed innocents about their mission in Iraq. They proclaim cynically that the war is about making money for Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR). Or they say it is about oil - adding that, since the United States needs oil, that is as it should be. Despite the soldiers' grousing about the reasons for the war, the film itself neither supports nor condemns it. That is as director Deborah Scranton wanted it to be - and as the men involved insisted.
"There was something incredibly profound about the soldiers being the ones to press the record button in Iraq that allows us into their world in a way never seen before," said director Deborah Scranton. Producer Robert May adds, "These soldiers were doubly courageous -- as soldiers at war, and as human beings willing to share that experience in an honest, powerful and personal way."
The filmmaking team shot an additional 200 hours of tape documenting the unfolding lives of the soldiers' families at home, both during deployment and after the soldiers returned home. The families and girlfriends and mothers had also signed on, ensuring that THE WAR TAPES-like any true story about war-is not just about life inside the war, but the life left at home, and the always difficult and sometimes beautiful way the relationships develop and change.
Finally, the prodigious task of distilling over 1,000 hours of tape into the finished 97-minute film took an entire year. "We had to figure out how to preserve the complexity and rawness of their experience in the course of telling their story-a story we truly believe has not been told before," said producer and editor Steve James.
Although five soldiers filmed their entire year's deployment with one-chip Sony miniDV video cameras, in the end, the film follows the lives of three. "We wanted to tell a compelling, cohesive story-to focus on just a few soldiers so that, most importantly, audiences will truly get to know the soldiers seen in the film," said producer Robert May. "After watching this film, we want people who don't know soldiers in their personal lives to feel as if they know Zack, Mike, and Steve. And to accomplish that, we all had to cut scenes and soldiers that we loved."
In the end, THE WAR TAPES is a complex, heartbreaking, and completely unique opportunity for millions to witness first-person experiences of war-a modern-day Odyssey-and the experience of homecoming.