“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.Filed Under film, iraq, review, Will