Well we've seen an awful lot of Iraq. From the stories the news pumps out, to even some insightful and provacative films from troops perspectives. However I don't recall a film about the conflict from the perspective of the Iraqi people. Leave it to a Japanese man to get into the thick of things. Watai, an award winning reporter, puts a face on the war, and its an Iraqi face. With his own camera, he starts interviewing people before the war, during the conflict, and after the "war" was supposedly over.
The scenes shot during the bombing of Baghdad are absolutely rivitting. Watai's camera focuses on the victims, particularly the children, and the subtitle for the film is "How Many Children Have You Killed?" The main thrust of the film focuses' on Ali Saqban, who lost three of his four children in one day. It is implied that perhaps without the US tanks blocking the road to the hospital he may have been able to save at least one of them. The finger is deliberately placed on the US soldiers, and at time it may even seem one sided. Even when there are people cheering the end of Hussein's reign, it is usually largely photographed and part of a media mess, perhaps explaining how certain images get out.
Saqban is really a tragic figure, losing four of his family members during the Iraq-Iran war in 1987. The plus side of his story is that one of his daughters did survive, and a year after this film was made, he and his wife had another child. It doesn't compensate for his loss, but life has gone on, and they still have some fear of going out. Most of the people have no desire to have US troops there. Some acknowledge the end of Hussein, but want their own country back. Perhaps the truest line comes from a little girl who had a piece of shrapnel in her eye. Watai asks her why the US is there and she says "I think they want our oil. They want to colonize us." Odd how the young have no filter, and say what we've all been suspecting.
It is through Saqban that we can see how the Iraqis would be so hostile to our occupation, even vowing to kill an American soldier if he sees one. The war itself was an international media circus; with even a few Japanese soldiers are part of the mighty coalition. Watai is stressing perhaps again that no one cares about Iraq until the white influence has come into it, again relaying the American egoist attitude that they are better than the rest of the world, and naturally everyone would like to be like us. As a news piece Id say this is very effective; however as a feature film this may not work as well as a traditional war documentary. However thanks to Watai we have something of a neutral perspective, someone filming this who is neither Iraqi or a soldier, and certainly not American.
As of today, Watai's film has no distribution in the US. In fact Watai himself was present at the screening I attended, and he said that it was the first time the picture was shown in the US. He is taking it around the country personally, and I hope that more people, particularly the "right" people get a chance to see this.