Monday, April 14, 2008
April 17: Free screening: Film about Iraq
Thursday, April 17, 7:30pm
A screening of 500 Miles to Babylon, a compelling film about Iraq under U.S. occupation.
Filmmaker David Martinez will be on hand to discuss his experiences in Iraq.
Sarah Husain, a representative of the War Resisters League’s Youth and Counter Militarism Project, will discuss counter-recruitment campaign efforts in New York City.
The Change You Want To See Gallery
84 Havemeyer St, (at Metropolitan Ave)
Brooklyn NY 11211
500 Miles to Babylon is a one-hour documentary shot in multiple cities in Iraq in 2003-4. Narrated by the filmmaker, using footage shot in Iraq threaded with graphically animated archival sequences to provide historic context, the film addresses the current war not simply as a conflict over petroleum profits or a scheme to fill a company’s coffers, but as part of a larger American imperial project.
Through impromptu interviews, glimpses of daily life, still photographs, and footage of car-bombs, demonstrations, night-time graffiti artists, Sufi rituals, and the celebrations following Saddam’s capture, 500 Miles To Babylon reveals the complex situation in contemporary Iraq through a personal lens. Far from being a simple anti-war movie, 500 Miles illustrates the terrible complexity of a people brutalized by a dictatorship, and the catastrophic results when that system is changed overnight by shortsighted military means.
500 Miles is also the story of director David Martinez, an American independent filmmaker in Iraq, attempting to understand the country and its ever-changing situation. One chapter of the film relates his experience in Fallujah where he temporarily abandoned his camera and was part of an ambulance crew fired on by U.S. snipers, only to be taken prisoner later by mujihadeen fighters in the same city. This is a film not about soldiers, not about governments, but about Iraqi civilians and a handful of independent journalists in a country being turned into hell. A cinema verite narrative of daily life, disintegration, and the humor that ordinary people adapt when living in a warzone.
With a soundtrack of Iraqi Choubi songs compiled by Sublime Frequencies.
David Martinez is a filmmaker and journalist originally from Texas, currently based in San Francisco. He is currently finishing, (along with co-producer Shane Bauer), a documentary entitled Songs To Enemies And Deserts about Darfuri rebel groups, filmed in Western Sudan in Summer 2007. He contributed war footage to films like Fahrenheit 911 by Michael Moore and Iraq For Sale by Robert Greenwald. His reporting on social movements and conflicts has appeared in The San Francisco Bay Guardian, Filmmaker Magazine, CounterPunch, and Islam Online. He has worked in feature film production with directors John Sayles and Richard Linklater, and as an actor in the animated feature Waking Life, directed by Linklater. He has also been employed as a school teacher, social worker, bike messenger, and taxi driver.
The War Resisters League’s Youth and Counter Militarism Project, based in New York City, provides young people with the resources and training necessary to agitate against military recruitment in their schools and communities. Their main focus is the Not Your Soldier Project. The long term goal is to bring youth organizers and young veterans together to help build a unified, national anti-war movement. To help accomplish this, they produce materials, conduct trainings, and work in a number of national coalitions.