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Straight from the front lines in Iraq, THE WAR TAPES is the first war movie filmed by soldiers themselves. These soldiers bypassed Pentagon supervised media to share their experience like never before. Funnier, spicier, and more gut wrenching than news reports, this is Operation Iraqi Freedom as filmed by Sergeant Steve Pink, Sergeant Zack Bazzi and Specialist Mike Moriarty. Steve is a wisecracking carpenter who aspires to be a writer. Zack is a Lebanese-American university student who loves to travel and is fluent in Arabic. Mike is a father who seeks honor and redemption. Each leaves a woman behind - a girlfriend, a mother and a wife. Through their candid footage, these men open their hearts and take us on an unforgettable journey, capturing camaraderie and humor along with the brutal and terrifying experiences they face. These soldiers got the story that 2,700 embedded reporters never could. Written by
A bold photojournalism experiment: soldiers as their own videographers
Deborah Scranton put digvid cameras in the hands of several members of a New Hampshire National Guard Unit deployed to Iraq early in 2004. She then guided their filming of experiences there, reviewing footage fed back via Internet, responding with tips on improving their photography and complementing the content. The Unit stayed in country for 16 months, and was involved in highly dangerous missions, i.e., the invasion of Fallujah in November, 2004, and escorting supply truck convoys here and there. Scranton distilled 900 hours of tapes to yield this 97 minute film that focuses on the experiences of three soldiers.
The footage succeeds in capturing the unpredictability, fear, chaos and ugliness of war. But the scenes that depict these matters make up just part of the film the most revealing and unique part. Much of the remaining footage is just so-so, not up to the quality seen in professionally shot docs like Gunner Palace or Iraq in Fragments. Still, Scranton's bold experiment, moving beyond freelance or "embedded" photojournalism to the recruitment of soldier-journalists, is a worthwhile effort. My grades: 6.5/10 (low B) (Seen on 10/12/06)
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