Reports from a War

I don't know what, if any, film industry Iraq had under Saddam Hussein or his predecessors. IMDB shows 62 titles for Iraq, although I recognize one or two as being made by Iranians. (Bahman Ghobadi's Half-Moon, on which more momentarily, is the first one that jumps out at me.) Of course in these days of cheap video cameras, anybody can be a filmmaker, which brings me to my point.

Regardless of our politics, the view we have of the war is almost entirely the one that comes from American media outlets (okay, the media outlets of the major industrial nations). I am neither denigrating nor endorsing those outlets, merely noting that what we seen at home on our TVs, in movie theaters and, for the most part, on our computers, comes from a single set of sources. And that means that the bulk of what we see takes place in Bagdad's Green Zone. But what are Iraqis thinking outside the Green Zone?

There is a new website, Iraqiscope, that offers us a chance to see and hear precisely that, films and videos made by Iraqis about their embattled nation. Who is behind this site? They describe themselves as follows:

Iraqiscope is financed by the German Federal Foreign Office and the UNESCO and realized by MICT in cooperation with the Arab Film Festival Rotterdam, Kirkuk TV (Baba Gur Gur), Baghdad Short Film Festival, Susanne Kaufmann, Haider Helo, Diar Bakr, Sheelan Hassan, Amena Al-Zahabi, Zaki Ziad, and Hadi Mahoud and Fayez Alqanani. MICT - Media in Cooperation and Transition is a non-profit media organization with offices in Berlin and Amman. MICT's activities comprise the training of journalists and media producers, program and content development, production of radio programs, films and books. Since being founded in early 2004, MICT has been implementing media projects on political and cultural topics in Iraq in cooperation with Iraqi activists, journalists, artists, and media producers. Check out: and

The one unfortunate drawback I've found on the Iraqiscope site so far is that many of the films -- but not all ot them -- I looked at were in Arabic without subtitles in any other language. With that proviso, the site is definitely worth a long look.

(Did I mention that there are cooking shows? Those seem generally to be subtitled. I can't wait to try some of these recipes. But that's another story, possibly for another blog.)