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BattleGround: 21 Days on the Empire's Edge (2004)

In late 2003, two filmmakers from the Sundance award-winning Guerrilla News Network spent three weeks on the frontlines of the simmering guerrilla war in Iraq, gathering intelligence, ... See full summary »



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Credited cast:
Robert Hollis ...
Himself (as Sgt. Robert Hollis)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rana al Aiouby ...
Farhan al Bayati ...
Hesham Barbary ...
Raed Jarrar ...
Fred Rudesheim ...
Himself (as Col. Fred Rudesheim)
Nate Sassaman ...
Himself (as Lt. Col. Nate Sassaman)
May Ying Welsh ...


In late 2003, two filmmakers from the Sundance award-winning Guerrilla News Network spent three weeks on the frontlines of the simmering guerrilla war in Iraq, gathering intelligence, dodging bullets, and capturing the untold stories of what has become the world's most covered, and misunderstood, conflict. BattleGround is an irreverent journey that will challenge the orthodoxies of Left and Right, and highlight the humanity of all sides of the conflict. BattleGround will be a critical film for anyone who wants to understand the powerful forces that are sucking America deeper and deeper into a Middle Eastern quagmire. Is Iraq our generation's "Bright Shining Lie," or is it the frontline in a global battle for national survival? Or is to some combination of both? Written by Guerrilla News Network

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14 October 2004 (USA)  »

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Rana al Aiouby: I will not ask an American to help me to stand up. I can stand up by myself. Why shall I ask the Americans? If they want to help someone, they can help themselves. They can build their country or they can help the poor people who live in the United States. Why do they come here to help me?
Hesham Barbary: What I'm saying is that America is here for its benefit and partially for the Iraqi's benefit.
Rana al Aiouby: So the Americans came here to help the Iraqi people? They didn't come to help the Iraqis. Everybody knows why ...
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User Reviews

Brilliant and open-minded documentary work
3 January 2007 | by See all my reviews

No one here yet has commented much on the artistry of this film. It was adeptly shot, with a raw, on-the-fly style that caught fascinating shot after shot of Iraqi civilians and daily life (for techies, it was shot on a Panasonic 24P camera, and was almost certainly transfered to film). The editing and music are aggressive, maintaining an energy and attention span befitting the young filmmakers. Yet this is no MTV hack-job. The filmmakers catch the emotions of the film with simple beauty, such as the running storyline of Frank being reunited with his family, and showing their love, customs, and feelings. There's a smart balance between these moments and the ideological chaos that envelopes the family and the entire country.

Others here have given good synopses of the film, so I won't add more to that other than to say the structure is intentionally meandering. The filmmakers in the "extras" section of the DVD discuss how they wanted to portray an emotional journey through Iraq from many perspectives, rather than to give a linear tale neatly guided by a voice-over. Don't look either for an intellectual dissection of the Iraqi situation from the filmmakers -- but expect a dozen or more dissections from those on-camera, ranging from idiotic (a U.S. soldier who thinks we're there just because we like to go to war and test weapons every few decades) to insightful. And the insights come from all sides, which tells us something we should have remembered from Vietnam: the real problem is not good vs. evil, but rather the clash of two civilizations with a complete lack of understanding for each other.

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