This book is the first comprehensive study of documentary film on the Iraq War. In a series of close readings of some thirty American and European works, it analyzes how documentaries on the run-up, unfolding, and aftermath of the war have adopted different points of view and aesthetics in order to address their publics. From the political essay (Fahrenheit 9/11, Why We Fight) to embedding within the ‘grunt point-of-view’ (Gunner Palace, The War Tapes), from anti-war activism in the form of cinéma vérité (Arlington West) to one-on-one confessional interviews with veterans (The Ground Truth, Alive Day Memories), these films challenge our pre-conceptions of the documentary form. As diverse as the films studied here may be in their political perspective and forms of address, and as hybrid a genre as the early 21st century documentary may seem, all of these works focus on the stories that were not being reported by the mainstream media as they unfolded, and reassert documentary’s claim to telling and showing the truth about real-world events against a backdrop of other, more dominant narratives about war – in particular, official political discourse, TV news reporting and Hollywood war film.
"This book transports us back to a critical time when the national conversation was deeply driven by a new wave of documentaries about what war means. Michlin is a deft guide who both celebrates this era and peels back the layers of reality that animate the form." - Roger Stahl, University of Georgia, USA
Introduction 1. Contemporary Radical Documentary: Generic Issues, the Social Role of Documentary, New Hybridized Forms and the Digital Turn 2. Fahrenheit 9/11: Documentary as a Political Weapon 3. Documentary Versus the Mass Media: Denouncing Disinformation and Turning Back the Rhetoric of Militainment Against Itself: Weapons of Mass Deception, War Made Easy, Militainment, Inc and Operation Hollywood 4. Documentary, Empire, and War profiteering: Why We Fight and Iraq For Sale 5. Documentary and the Embedded ‘Grunt POV’ Versus Representations of Iraqi Trauma: The Ironies of Gunner Palace and Occupation: Dreamland and the Iraqi POV in The Prisoner and Other Films6. Documentary and Conflicting Authorial Voices: The ‘Virtual Embed’ of The War Tapes 7. Documentary and Anti-War Activism: From the Performance of Protest to Confessional Address: Arlington West, Breaking Ranks, Not in Our Name, The Ground Truth 8. War Documentary and Grievous Bodily Harm: Between ‘Body Politic’ and Taboo Anti-War Spectacle: Body of War, Baghdad E.R., Alive Day Memories 9. The Torture Documentaries: Exposing the Dark Side of War: Taxi to the Dark Side, Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, Standard Operating Procedure Conclusion
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