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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 ...
Himself
Hesham Barbary ...
Raed Jarrar ...
Himself
Fred Rudesheim ...
Himself (as Col. Fred Rudesheim)
Nate Sassaman ...
Himself (as Lt. Col. Nate Sassaman)
May Ying Welsh ...
Herself
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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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Quotes

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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Important messages somewhat buried in pastiche
7 February 2007 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

This documentary features monologues and 'as-they-happen' scenes from Iraq. Particularly poignant stories and images of an Iraqi ex-patriot returning home to his family after several years in the USA; a few U.S. officers who are more honest and better informed about Iraq than the U.S. executive branch, and Iraqis who present opinions about the war that are far removed from anything the U.S. "free press" has been exposing American citizens to. Despite all of this excellent material, the film does not hold together very well as a film experience. It is an intelligent and journalistic but highly manipulative and modernistic documentary - powerful, but lacking some of the depth which characterizes more reflexive efforts.

The director seems to be attempting to play the role of the Wizard of Oz - manipulating the the themes from behind the editing room curtain, but clearly wants you to believe or understand something about Iraq after you've seen the film. In this regard, the film does succeed - any thinking person will walk away from this enlightened - to an extent. My objection - and it is a small one - is that it is entirely unclear to me, after seeing this film, where the director stands and how much direction was used to produce what we see in the film. The selection of scenes and the exceptional clarity and eloquence of the monologues strongly suggests that a great deal of editing has taken place - but what were the criteria for selection of scenes, participants, etc? How much coaching and scripting occurred? Despite his limitations and obnoxious personality, at least Michael Moore lets you know that what you are about to see is his view, spun in his unique and quite biased direction.

One of the best aspects of this film is that it does not insult the intelligence of "the American People" in the way we have become accustomed to being insulted by our present administration, nor does it, in any way, insult the intelligence of our military. The military personnel who participate in this film apparently understand what they are in Iraq to do much better than some of our leaders do. Or perhaps they are simply much more honest about it.


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