by David Phinney
Saturday August 24th 2019

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And the Oscar for Best Documentary Goes to…..

This is a tough one. Two outstanding docs are up for the nomination: Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and The War Tapes by Deborah Scranton and Chuck Lacy.

Al Gore lucidly delivers an urgent warning about global warming in Inconvenient Truth that is jaw dropping in its punch. PLUS, there’s an enormous appeal to the idea that a former Vice President could win an Oscar. No doubt, the novelty has thrown the Hollywood momentum to Gore, but the Oscars are about films, not inspired PowerPoint presentations — no matter how brilliant and important.

So my vote goes for War Tapes.

Scranton and Lacy handed out video cameras to US soldiers deploying for Iraq. A year later, the soldiers returned with video from the front lines that only a soldier could provide. The priceless material reflects great soul and brutal honesty. Thus, the film’s driving concept proves brilliant. The rest is consummate film making.

Sergeants Steve Pink and Zack Bazzi and Specialist Mike Moriarty are riveting as the central characters. All are New Englanders with Charlie Company, 3rd of the 172nd Infantry Mountain Regiment. thumb-bazzi small.jpg
(Army Sgt. Zack Bazzi)

When their regiment first heads for Iraq, they are imbued with working class affection for America, a hope to serve with honor and a dogged determination to do the right thing for those who touch their lives. Their values are quickly challenged. Based at Camp Anaconda in the deadly Sunni Triangle, they are among a group of 21 soldiers with cameras who tell a shocking story of war. It is a bloody unfolding of horror they help sow and, for a year, they struggle to prevail.

While in Iraq, the soldiers are charged with protecting KBR/Halliburton convoys and they constantly travel on Iraq’s roads through cities and villages.

Having interviewed hundreds of contractors working on the battlefields of Iraq over the past few years, I was stunned by what I saw on screen. The scenes echo what workers and soldiers have been telling me again and again. Iraq is a horrible war.

From the frightening insurgent and terrorist attacks, to the cold stare of dead men on the battlefield and the gruesome deaths of civilian Iraqis run over by frightened drivers of speeding US truck convoys; this film is very sadly, the real thing.

Although fighting not to admit it, not one soldier comes back unscarred. This is Cinema Verite at its most elemental and at its very best.

The difficult part to swallow is that Inconvenient Truth is now just as real.

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One Response to “And the Oscar for Best Documentary Goes to…..”

  1. Orato Editor says:

    Although I haven’t seen the documentaries you’re talking about here, I must say that I’d like to see “Jesus Camp” by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, which features what an organization called

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