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A Limited Set of 'Voices'

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 29, 2004; Page WE41

This fairly fascinating little documentary, compiled almost exclusively from digital video footage shot man-in-the-street-style by real Iraqis using 150 free DV cameras distributed throughout the country by film producers, advertises itself as having been "filmed and directed by the people of Iraq." At least the "filmed" part is accurate. The description, of course, glosses over the fact that someone -- in this case American producers Eric Manes, Archie Drury and Martin Kunert -- shaped the finished product from what must have been a massive amount of raw footage.

Despite a good amount of balance allowing for the expression of some anti-American sentiment, "Voices of Iraq" comes down squarely on the side supporting the war in Iraq.

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At the very least, the cumulative impression it leaves after all the myriad voices have had their say, is that life in a post-Saddam world, with all its hardships and heartaches, is still better than the alternative. As we listen to young people and old, to men and women, the well-off and the poor express their hopes, dreams and fears, one set of voices seems curiously absent from the conversation. They are the so-called insurgents, most of whom are dismissed out of hand by the film's subjects as not being Iraqis. But if they're not, then who are they, and why are they still killing coalition soldiers and Iraqis (especially those who are being trained as soldiers and police)? Are they really, as many in the film speculate, outside agitators paid by despotic foreign regimes that are nervous about the spread of democracy if real representative government takes root in Iraq? Or could they actually be Iraqis who, for whatever reason, don't like things the way they're going? Whoever they are, and however inarticulate their rage, we never get a chance to meet them or hear their voices.

VOICES OF IRAQ (Unrated, 79 minutes) --Contains brief obscenity, dead bodies, scenes of torture, killing, mutilation and the aftermath of car bombings. In Arabic, Kurdish and English with subtitles. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

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