Yesterday, I attended the film’s world premeire at the Tribeca Film Festival as a guest of Director, Deborah Scranton. The air of the theatre was chock-full of tangible anticipation, as the audience verbally spatted with itself before, during and after the screening.
What else would you expect?
We’re waist deep in a war that has spiraled out of (non)control into random acts of sectarian violence, kidnappings and assassinations. But no matter your position on the war in Iraq, The War Tapes is a must see. It isn’t propaganda for empire building and it isn’t anti-war material. The film is 90-minutes of brilliantly edited (from 1200+ hours of raw footage), first person perspective of three National Guard soldiers who agreed to film their year-long tour of Iraq. The narrative twists and turns through adrenaline rushes, moments of self-reflection and gut-wrenching honest discourse. It’s nothing but real, human storytelling of real, human beings.
The Q&A session following the film was interesting, both from the filmmaker and audience perspective. While we were being told about the thousands of hours of footage and IM conversations behind the making of the film, a few guys in the front of the audience began shouting randomly at the audience, defending the complexity of the war to a group of people who might have had a particular political perspective, but were incredibly apropos with their attention and questions directed squarely at the film itself.
Deborah and crew gracefully handled the protests and gave their mic’s to the soldiers (Stephen Pink, Mike Moriarty and Zack Bazzi), who casually stepped into the spotlight and delivered their $.02 on the whole experience. I guess a film premeire isn’t too much pressure after spending 365 days watching each other’s backs on the other side of the planet.
Following the Q&A, we stopped by the after party at The Bubble Lounge. While packed with friends, family and industry types, we eventually bumped into Deborah and her son. During our conversation, Deborah told me that due to the success of this project, a handful of soldiers have since contacted her, looking to become armed with the latest weapon of warfare: a video camera. Citizen media has a new brother in arms, and soldier media has a five star director.