Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Distributed Reporting With "The War Tapes"

The War Tapes, now in theatres, is the result of a filmmaker putting digital cameras into the hands of soldiers who took them to Iraq and documented their time there. The resulting 1,000 hours of footage were edited down to 97 minutes which feature three soldiers' experiences of the war in Iraq. Please disregard the fact that their web address could also be read as "The Wart Apes" - I promise that is not what this film is about.

I met a veteran of the Iraq war at a wedding over the weekend. He is now married to an old friend of my wife's and had been back in the U.S. for less than three weeks. He served two tours in Iraq, first in Tikrit and most recently in Bagdhad. He also served in Bosnia, as he had come into the service during Clinton's presidency. I don't meet many young soldiers for whatever reason so I was startled to hear him say he was very much opposed to the war. We got as far into the topic as seemed appropriate for the circumstances of a wedding and old friends getting back together. Needless to say he seemed very relieved to be home and at the prospect of not having to go back again, which he seemed pretty confident of.

This kind of film seems to have been a long time in coming - the stage was set by Born Into Brothels (and the Kids With Cameras program, which has made great use of distributed documentary photography) and the Beastie Boys made it famous. It's not surprising then that the same distributor picked up both indie films. Picking up The War Tapes would be a natural move.

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