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Iraq Before and After

“TruthSearch” is a short film by Hena Ashraf.

In only ten minutes, it shows two divergent time-places that share the same place on the map, but are completely different representations or constructs. In between Iraq 2003 and Iraq 2008 is a grueling American occupation, and by the latter we hear an Iraqi narrative from a journalist who shatters the rich, refined and utterly baseless claims of the war’s powerful proponents — sadly, it came 5 years too late.

The early, heady days of the Iraq war, starting in 2003, were a time of American arrogance, jingoism and barely restrained violence. She demonstrates that time not through her own words, but through key statements by American official, then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the denizens of the establishment media. They present their systematic violence as necessary, justified and careful, while the images we see of bombings and shootings do not fit so closely.

However, the greater juxtaposition is in 2008, with the narration of an Iraqi journalist working in Baghdad. Ali Marzook describes the mood and life of his people. He talks depressingly of a Baghdad being eaten by concrete walls, and the silence of overly politicized existence. Five years after the war began, the war fantasies of 2003 were a dim shadow on the lived realities Marzook describes.

He opined, “It is time to dismantle the illusion of democracy the American occupation brought to Iraq, which is now surrounded by death and fear.” Marzook further articulated his views in a piece for Electronic Iraq.

“TruthSearch” is thought-provoking and powerful, showing the disjointed mismatch between reality and media image, between American official, high-flying rhetoric and the bloodiness of war, and between the lives of Iraqis under occupation and the promises made to them.

My only critique is that some of the footage used in the 2003 portion is re-used in 2008 part, during the time Marzook reads. While this may be to make a point, and the film is disclaimed as “experimental,” it was confusing. And I say that despite the fact that the footage in question of a little girl crying as American soldiers storm her home is I think the most moving. It drives home the brutality of the American conquer of Iraq and weighs on the heart. However, to really center on the most interesting change this film reveals, the change in Iraq as a time-place and the problems of American, system-fueled occupation, we really need to know we’re seeking 2003 Iraq versus 2008 Iraq, even if each is told through different eyes.

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8 Responses to “Iraq Before and After”

  1. hmm i can see your point but i think this film also plays on memory. for example in the 1st half our memory is jogged when we see and hear familiar images and statements from the early days on the iraq war, and the 2nd half can also be about memory, in this case maybe ali's memory. as in ali is talking about iraq in 2008 but the images are from 2003, so the images are like memories while his narration is a lamentation on what happened since those memories, perhaps.
    i think to have just used images from 2008 in the 2nd half would have been the easy thing to do for the filmmaker, and the more obvious thing to do.

    Posted by sarah | August 18, 2010, 11:27 pm
  2. Sarah

    Interesting point. I think the problem was breaking the video into labels of 2003 and 2008. This makes it seem linear and literal.

    Posted by KABOBfestWill | August 19, 2010, 4:59 am
  3. Tony Blair was pelted with shoes and eggs when he attended a book-signing in Dublin today. Many people might consider he was fortunate he didn’t have grenades thrown at him.

    Posted by cheap art print | September 4, 2010, 5:10 pm
  4. I will never suport the US occupation of Iraq, But I also firmly believe that they should not have gotten involved in the first place, I understand very much how the Iraqi people feel. I grew up in allied occupied West Germany, in the US occupation zone, and although it was a peaceful occupation they did not treat the German people very well. The war in Iraq should be over and the US should withdraw all there troops, it is time for the people of Iraq to rebuild there country, communities, and pride.

    Posted by Diedrik | September 26, 2012, 3:11 pm
  5. He opined, “It is time to dismantle the illusion of democracy the American occupation brought to Iraq, which is now surrounded by death and fear.” Marzook further articulated his views in a piece for Electronic Iraq best essay au

    Posted by blogc2011 | March 2, 2013, 12:07 pm
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  8. I think that what you typed was actually very reasonable.
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