Operation Filmmaker

Good intentions lead to a moral quandary when a star-struck Iraqi film student is whisked from Baghdad to a Prague-based Hollywood shoot and an uncertain future in timely docu "Operation Filmmaker."

With:
With: Muthana Mohmed, Liev Schreiber, Peter Saraf, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Matthew Stillman.

Good intentions lead to a moral quandary when a star-struck Iraqi film student is whisked from Baghdad to a Prague-based Hollywood shoot and an uncertain future in timely docu “Operation Filmmaker.” Meaty issues of media responsibility and individual self-determination, coupled with inside-baseball aspects of set politics and immigration policies, elevate this unintentional analogy on U.S. involvement in Iraq to a hot-button level that will compel fests and distribs to have a look.

Shortly before entering production on his 2005 directorial debut, “Everything Is Illuminated,” thesp Liev Schreiber saw an MTV piece featuring 25-year-old Iraqi Muthana Mohmed, whose wistful dream in the face of his film school’s bombing is to go to Hollywood and meet Angelina Jolie. Working with his producer, Peter Saraf, Schreiber arranges to have Mohmed flown to Prague, and for nonfiction helmer Nina Davenport to document his adventures as a P.A. on the shoot.

At this point, a fatal cause-and-effect occurs. Nobody seems to take the time to clue the euphoric young man in to the realities of his station, and he subsequently can’t hide his bitterness upon realizing he’ll see more of the craft services table than the set.

Confessing his love for President Bush to the liberal producer and flubbing his editing responsibilities on the wrap party gag reel, Mohmed finds himself scrambling to find an ally for a visa extension at shoot’s end. With Schreiber and Saraf gone, he manages to stay legal and get a job on the “Doom” set, eventually finding an unlikely financial savior for a London film school berth in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. But that euphoria is also short-lived.

Increasingly exasperated at Mohmed’s seeming inability to take control of his life and her own dogged unwillingness to stop filming him, Davenport likens her increasingly volatile relationship with her subject to the U.S. military predicament: “I had wanted a happy ending,” she frets on one title card. “Now I’m just looking for an exit strategy.”

For his part, Mohmed is a walking conundrum, part victim of liberal guilt and part arrogant opportunist, fueled by friends and family who urge him never to return to Baghdad. “I’m trying to be like you, but I can’t,” he says early, underscoring a cultural divide not of his making.

Pic raises pithy questions sure to provoke animated discussions pro and con. Credit Davenport for a mostly unbiased presentation that presents her own disenchantment in a balanced manner. Her intuitive camerawork leads a tidy tech package.

Operation Filmmaker

Production: A Nina Davenport production. (International sales: Films Transit, Montreal.) Produced by Davenport, David Schisgall. Directed by Nina Davenport.

Crew: Camera (color, mini-DV-to-HD), Davenport; editors, Davenport, Aaron Kuhn; music, Sheldon Mirowitz; sound, Dave Ellinwood. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Real to Reel), Sept. 8, 2007. Running time: 92 MIN.

With: With: Muthana Mohmed, Liev Schreiber, Peter Saraf, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Matthew Stillman.

More Film

  • Graphic Novel 'Under,' About Sewer Mutants,

    Graphic Novel 'Under,' About Sewer-Dwelling Mutants, Being Adapted Into Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

    Good intentions lead to a moral quandary when a star-struck Iraqi film student is whisked from Baghdad to a Prague-based Hollywood shoot and an uncertain future in timely docu “Operation Filmmaker.” Meaty issues of media responsibility and individual self-determination, coupled with inside-baseball aspects of set politics and immigration policies, elevate this unintentional analogy on U.S. […]

  • Daniel KaluuyaThe Metropolitan Museum of Art's

    Daniel Kaluuya to Star in Romantic Drama 'Queen and Slim' From Lena Waithe

    Good intentions lead to a moral quandary when a star-struck Iraqi film student is whisked from Baghdad to a Prague-based Hollywood shoot and an uncertain future in timely docu “Operation Filmmaker.” Meaty issues of media responsibility and individual self-determination, coupled with inside-baseball aspects of set politics and immigration policies, elevate this unintentional analogy on U.S. […]

  • Durban Fest Fetes South African Women

    Durban Fest Fetes South African Women With Diverse Line-Up

    Good intentions lead to a moral quandary when a star-struck Iraqi film student is whisked from Baghdad to a Prague-based Hollywood shoot and an uncertain future in timely docu “Operation Filmmaker.” Meaty issues of media responsibility and individual self-determination, coupled with inside-baseball aspects of set politics and immigration policies, elevate this unintentional analogy on U.S. […]

  • Predator Comic-Con panel

    'The Predator' Teases Battling Aliens at Gory Comic-Con Panel

    Good intentions lead to a moral quandary when a star-struck Iraqi film student is whisked from Baghdad to a Prague-based Hollywood shoot and an uncertain future in timely docu “Operation Filmmaker.” Meaty issues of media responsibility and individual self-determination, coupled with inside-baseball aspects of set politics and immigration policies, elevate this unintentional analogy on U.S. […]

  • Durban FilmMart, CaribbeanTales Push Co-Productions for

    Durban FilmMart, CaribbeanTales Push Co-Prod Opportunities for Women of Color

    Good intentions lead to a moral quandary when a star-struck Iraqi film student is whisked from Baghdad to a Prague-based Hollywood shoot and an uncertain future in timely docu “Operation Filmmaker.” Meaty issues of media responsibility and individual self-determination, coupled with inside-baseball aspects of set politics and immigration policies, elevate this unintentional analogy on U.S. […]

  • New Line Comic Con

    Everything We Saw From 'It 2' During New Line's Scare Diego Comic-Con Presentation

    Good intentions lead to a moral quandary when a star-struck Iraqi film student is whisked from Baghdad to a Prague-based Hollywood shoot and an uncertain future in timely docu “Operation Filmmaker.” Meaty issues of media responsibility and individual self-determination, coupled with inside-baseball aspects of set politics and immigration policies, elevate this unintentional analogy on U.S. […]

  • Lin Manuel MirandaVanity Fair Oscar Party,

    Lin-Manuel Miranda to Make Directorial Debut With 'Tick, Tick...Boom!'

    Good intentions lead to a moral quandary when a star-struck Iraqi film student is whisked from Baghdad to a Prague-based Hollywood shoot and an uncertain future in timely docu “Operation Filmmaker.” Meaty issues of media responsibility and individual self-determination, coupled with inside-baseball aspects of set politics and immigration policies, elevate this unintentional analogy on U.S. […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content