Film-Forward Review: [MEETING RESISTANCE]

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Director of Photography & Directed by Steve Connors & Molly Bingham.
Produced by Daniel J. Chalfen.
Edited by David Emanuele.
Released by International Film Circuit.
Language: English & Arabic with English subtitles.
Country of Origin: USA. 85 min. Not Rated .

Filmed during the first year of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Meeting Resistance suffers from the same problem as the Iraq-set feature film The Situation – timeliness. The situation on the ground has changed so much in the interim that much of what the documentary reveals is old news, and would have been much more relevant if it had been released just two years ago.

One wonders how two American filmmakers, Steven Connors and Molly Bingham, were able to film interview after interview of the emerging Iraqi insurgency – identified only with labels like “the Teacher,” “the Local,” “the Warrior,” etc. – in the Baghdad neighborhood of Adhamiya, north of the Green Zone. When the resisters, overwhelmingly men, appear onscreen, the camera cuts away from their faces, or they’re out of focus (more for the safety of the filmmakers), save for one, a political science professor, who explains that at least 80 percent of the resistance is fueled by religious fervor – the theme that drives the film. (Yes, 72 virgins are referred to as part of a martyr’s reward.) According to those interviewed, only about five percent are foreigners, three-quarters made up from the former military and the rest civilian.

Months before the photos of Abu Ghraib were leaked, shown unexpurgated here, one interviewee mentions a prisoner locked in an electric cage with dogs. (Scenes of civilian casualties have not been redacted.) However, suggestions of the increasing Sunni vs. Shi’a violence is downplayed and roundly condemned, with no mention of any likelihood of the country’s de facto three-way partition. Having thoroughly brought to light the Iraqi sentiment against the U.S. invasion, the film cries out for other points of view. No voice or hope for a secular state here. Instead, the man-on-the-street sound bites overwhelmingly support the insurgence. Kent Turner
October 19, 2007



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