A US film exposing the ugly reality of the Iraq War seared the big screen at the Venice film festival Friday, with director Brian De Palma saying he hoped it would help end America’s military occupation.
“The pictures are what will stop the war,” De Palma told a news conference after the showing of the movie, “Redacted”.
The feature, which is based on the actual March 2006 rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi schoolgirl by US soldiers who also slaughtered her family, is a reaction to what he sees as sanitised media accounts of the war seen in the United States.
“All the images we (currently) have of our war are completely constructed — whitewashed, redacted,” said De Palma, who is best known for such violent fictions as “Carrie” and “Scarface”.
“One only hopes that these images will get the public incensed enough to get their congressmen to vote against the war,” he added.
“Redacted” hits hard with its dramatic reenactment of the conditions, attitudes and stresses that led up to the real-life crime.
One of the soldiers involved, Private First Class Jesse Spielman, was in early August sentenced to 110 years in prison for his role in the rape and killings.
Shown through the imaginary video lens of one of the soldiers involved in the raid on the girl’s home, De Palma’s dramatisation is interlaced with actual news clips, documentary footage and stills from the war.
The decision to use the device of the videocam arose from De Palma’s research on the Internet. “The blogs, the use of language, it’s all there,” he said.
He explained that legal obstacles in dealing with real people and events meant he was “forced to fictionalise things” to get the movie made.
“Redacted” will initially be distributed nationwide by Magnolia Pictures as a “classic art film,” its producer Jason Kliot said. “If the response is strong one hopes the distribution will grow the film in a big way.”
The movie was something of a jolt when compared with the other fare on Venice’s programme.