Talk:Voices of Iraq (movie 2004)

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I am placing the following article additions by anonymous SourceWatch contributors and here on the discussion page, since the only source for them is an anonymous blog. -- Diane Farsetta, 1 February 2005

Martin Kunert, one of the filmakers responded, "I doubt Eartha Melzer saw the film, for if she did, how could she write, 'People… seem unafraid of bombs going off nearby.' In the first five minutes of Voices of Iraq, children say how bombs hurt every one, how bombs rain on their heads. Next second, a nearby bomb explodes and young man darts around calming kids. Minute later, another young man reveals he’s the only survivor of a car bombing. Ms. Melzer also wrote, 'People say Saddam funded al Qaeda.' No, that’s one man statement in the film. Another Iraqi states his people are from outer space. The film is a collection of many, often, contradictory opinions. Melzer goes further, 'Former Iraqi political prisoners are shown laughing off the stories of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib – what Arab man wouldn't want a female American soldier to play with his penis?' No, they’re laughing off American’s reactions to the Abu Ghraib scandal. In her article, Melzer also claimed, 'Among the notables interviewed, but not identified [in the film], is Sharif Ali, the cousin of Iraq's last king.' Sharif Ali doesn’t appear in the film, so Melzer is obviously clueless as to the film’s contents." [1]

"The government didn't hire us. Nor are we documentary filmmakers. Anybody can google our names or check to learn we're commerical filmmakers in Hollywood who do innovative projects." [2]

Manning, Selvage and Lee, has as its mission:

“Our firm is driven by a new and higher purpose. We’re not about simply changing perceptions, because perceptions can be fleeting. What we do, in every sense of the words, is this: Change minds.”

Kunert responded, "News flash, PR firms behind SuperBowl beer commercials are trying to change your mind (buy beer! buy beer!). That's what all PR firms do." [3]

Kunert laughed, adding "Okay, I followed the link. The Foundation links to Voices of the Iraq. (they like the film), nothing more. If I linked to THE AVIATOR, nobody would think I'm claiming the film as one of my projects. SourceWatch should learn the difference between casual and causal relationships." [4]

Is there anything in the SourceWatch about a NPOV voice for articles? If so, this one fails it completely -

I would much prefer that the additional changes proposed would be put here in discussion and debated point by point. I particuarly take issue with the assertion that this is the first movie that is composed of having 100s of individual cameras out on the field. This is What Democracy Looks Like (put out by Big Noise Tactical Films) did this in 1999.


If you're going to delete this much material that someone else has added, I think you should move the deleted material to the talk page so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle. Then we can consider it point-by-point. I agree that in its present form it needs work. The writing style for an article should be as "seamless" as possible. It shouldn't look like one person's point of view interspersed with someone else's comments, each beginning with the word "note." If there is merit to the new material, it should be simply integrated with the rest of article. --Sheldon Rampton 20:47, 6 Jan 2005 (EST)
Good point. I'll add the previous changes to the talk page.

Possible Additions Under Discussion

These additions were added by, and I moved them to here.

Note: Manning, Selvage & Lee is a massive, 64 year-old, international publicity company whose numerous clients include the US Army, General Motors, Nestle, Philips and Procter & Gamble. In 2003, they won the Holmes Report “Best PR Agency of the Year”.

Note: This is the first film in cinematic history made by passing out cameras to hundreds of people.

I would contest this point particuarly because to acknowledge this is to completely ignore the whole Indymedia movement that arose out of the Seattle protests. While it makes for a nice rhetorical flourish (particuarly how in IMDB the director is listed as "The People of Iraq"), and the logistics of it are impressive, there a number of movies composed of from 30 to 60 photographers (This is What Democracy Looks Like, The Miami Model, etc), and counters that this is the first movie to have the innovation of having cameras in the hands of regular people on the ground.

Note: Most American opinions are based on reporting by non-Iraqi news media. The film has Iraqis speaking directly. It's akin to a film about America being made by a cross section of common Americans, as opposed to Chinese reporters encamped in Washington DC.

I would certainly agree, butone has to wonder about the selection process of the people who had cameras. Were there a cross section of tribal and sect affiliations, of class differences, of level of adherance to Islam? It's simply unknown whether or not thsi represents "the common Iraqi".

Note: Mark Cuban makes money when more people go see the film.

Note: That is some Iraqi opinions. Other Iraqis in the film wish for America's departure. Or wish for Saddam's return.

Note: One person in the film states that. Another states Iraqis are from outer space. The whole film is a collection of Iraqi opinions, not absolute truths.

Note: See the film. See what is their basis of comparing torture.

The timing of the movie's release, its tone, and the fact that MS&L promoted it, raised questions about the intent of the movie.

Note: The film was released prior to the election to take advantage of the elections focus on Iraq. The release date was decided upon by Magnolia Pictures, not MS&L.

According to MS&L Managing Director Joe Gleason, he and his colleagues also deliver key targeted messages about the war in Iraq to specific constituencies," wrote Eartha Melzer. "Was the left-leaning art house crowd one of those constituencies? Is the government hiring documentary filmmakers to propagandize the U.S. population? Nobody involved with the film is willing to say who initially put up the money for the film or how they ended up represented by the Army's PR firm." [5]

Note: Ms. Melzer article was poorly researched, and often, incorrect. For example, she writes: “Among the notables interviewed, but not identified, is Sharif Ali, the cousin of Iraq’s last king.” Sherif Ali isn't identified becasue he doesn't appear in the film. A point by point rebuttle of Ms. Melzer's dubious work is the comments section of her original article on inthesetimes website.

In addition, the filmmakers received help from the Washington DC-based Iraq Foundation, which receives funding from the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Note: the filmmakers received assistance from many sources, including the Dawa Party in Iraq, which is backed by Iran.

Note: Most of the torture footage came from DVD's being sold on Baghdad streets. The Iraq Foundation was one source of help, as were many other Iraqis, including those fighting American soldiers.

The Iraq Foundation helped the filmmakers "figure out how to get around and who to give the cameras to," as well as providing "torture footage." [6]

Note: Most of the torture footage came from DVD's being sold on Baghdad streets. The Iraq Foundation was one source of help, as were many other Iraqis, including those fighting American soldiers.

Notes supplied by Martin Kunert, filmmaker, Voices of Iraq