In February 2009 a group of Danish soldiers accompanied by documentary filmmaker Janus Metz arrived at Armadillo, an army base in the southern Afghan province of Helmand. Metz and cameraman... See full summary »
In January, 2004, in Al-Falluja, Iraq, a documentary film crew follows an infantry squad of the 82nd Airborne, US Army. Cameras accompany the squad of seven on day and night patrols, as ... See full summary »
On February 13, 2010, American-led coalition forces launched the biggest military operation since the beginning of the Afghanistan War. Their target was the town of Marjah, a Taliban ... See full summary »
Documentary portraying the actions of U.S. corporate contractors in the U.S.-Iraq war. Interviews with employees and former employees of such companies as Halliburton, CACI, and KBR suggest... See full summary »
Al Haj Ali
Documentary about deceased photojournalist Tim Hetherington directed by Sebastian Junger. Together with his friend and long-term collaborator Sebastian, Tim had travelled the world ... See full summary »
Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's year dug in with the Second Platoon in one of Afghanistan's most strategically crucial valleys reveals extraordinary insight into the surreal combination of back breaking labor, deadly firefights, and camaraderie as the soldiers painfully push back the Taliban. Written by
Sundance Film Festival
It's a sad commentary on contemporary journalism that a film like Restrepo can win a prestigious award like the Grand Jury 2010 Sundance Best Documentary Award. Basically, the film-makers embed themselves with a US platoon in Afghanistan, document the experience, and intersperse interviews of some of the soldiers (taken after the period in question) throughout. There's no attempt to place the events in a larger context, no narrative to tie anything with the policy decisions taken in Washington, all we get is a raw "life in Afghanistan" seen through the eyes of soldiers on the ground in a single location. Don't get me wrong, it is quite interesting to actually see some of what is going on the ground in Afghanistan, after the thousands of hours of TV punditry and miles of newspaper column inches that media heads have filled with opinions, debates, tirades and justifications of the so called "war on terror". But this is the kind of reporting that should be omnipresent in our media, something you might see in a segment on 60 minutes, or some other outlet for investigative journalism (of which there are fewer and fewer).
Unfortunately, as we know, investigative journalism is expensive, and has dramatically been cut down in our age of media mega mergers. It's a lot cheaper to stick a few people around a table to mouth off on TV (and then cover the debate in the print media), then it is to ship true journalists across the globe (and around the centers of power in the US) who are not afraid to stir things up and take on the powers that be.
And so something like Restrepo - which is a bog standard journalistic piece - becomes an award winning documentary film. Examples of the kind of items that might be included in a wider scope documentary film worthy of awards: - Restrepo like footage in multiple locations in Afghanistan - similar footage of the other side (Taliban/AlQaeda or whomever is actually doing the fighting) with interviews on the reasons
interviews with the policy makers in DC explaining what the policies
are and why, what they are trying to achieve - compare these goals with what is going on the ground - facts and figures about how much money is being spent on the war (compare to how much is being spent on Afghan aid), start digging into which corporations are making the most profit out of it - look at the cozy ties between retired DoD personnel and defense contractors etc, etc, etc you can just keep pulling at strings forever really... Tie everything into a cohesive narrative, maybe start actually providing answers to the still unanswered question of what we are actually still doing in Afghanistan, and maybe we would have an important documentary film worthy of an award. But a context free year in the life of a US platoon - sorry guys, that just doesn't cut it.
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