Pic tells their stories in U.S.-produced doc

In a season of political documentaries that take one side or the other on the war in Iraq, a film has emerged whose purpose is not to address American politics but the Iraqi people.

“Voices of Iraq,” produced by Booya Studios’ Eric Manes, Martin Kunert and Archie Drury, a former U.S. Marine who served in the Gulf War, is a compilation of footage shot by Iraqis who were given digital video cameras to chronicle their own lives and attitudes. People taped their family and friends talking about their dreams and what they thought of life post-Saddam.

The latter question elicited radically different answers.

A young man wearing a Back Street Boys T-shirt says, “Our situation is terrible. We have been through everything you could imagine. We’re not even safe in our own homes.”

Says another: “Things are better now than under Saddam — even if we die of hunger.”

The doc’s power lies in its images.

In one scene, a graduating class in Baghdad dances and throws confetti. In another, a garage band tries out English phrases picked up from black-market Megadeth CDs.

Not that “Voices of Iraq” is entirely apolitical. The film takes jabs at the media’s focus on negative stories, such as the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and supplies statistics on Saddam’s terror, to some extent justifying the American invasion.

Yet Drury says his intent was to “show both sides” of the war.

“I’m not Michael Moore,” he says. “We’re trying to show the balance, and to humanize the picture (of Iraq).”

To enforce his impartiality, he adds, “I don’t even know who I’m going to vote for.”

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