Lois Poitras

Lois Poitras decided to do something foolhardy, and went to Iraq with a camera, and hung out with an anti-occupation politician during the 2005 election. Contrast this with the home of Kraus and Shafer and Hitchens, Slate, which elected to get its Iraqi election news from correspondant Tamara Chalabi – that’s right, Ahmed’s daughter. How sick is that. And so contrarian! Giggles must have swept the Slate D.C. office – so naughty. Why, it is as funny as making a mousse out of congealed Iraqi blood!

Well, Poitras didn’t do anything so chic and D.C., but spent time –
plebe that she is – in the Adhamiyah section of Baghdad filming … “*Dr. Riyadh* … a Sunni political candidate and medical doctor who sees the effects of war daily. Dr. Riyadh opposes U.S. occupation and calls for civil resistance, while hoping for a democracy based on Islamic principles.” One of the … wait for it … bad guys, must be. Ungrateful for the killing fields which, as Chris Hitchens has pointed out, are just the price people like him are willing to pay to stop Islamofascism.

Anyway, her Q and A here is fascinating, and the film sounds pretty
cool – those of you who get PBS might see if you can tune into some
rerun of My Country, My country.

However, as much as LI finds Poitras and the response to her film
heartening – there is still a part of this country that won’t accept
bullshit lying down – there was a q.and a. to remind us that under the present decider-clown, we are slouching towards giving up our right to freedom of speech at an alarming rate:

“*Fort Thomas, Ky.:* Have you found out yet why you have a score of 400 with Homeland Security? it is an outrage! The film was wondeful I am hoping to get it shown at my daughters HS - Thank you and please send our thanks to the Dr. and his family for sharing their lives with us!

This is an important work.

*Laura Poitras:* The reason I'm on the list is classified. What I was told my a source it that there is an accusation against me. I'm in the process of filing a Freedom of Information Act request which will probably take months or years to process. It is sad and also funny - no one gave me any trouble in Baghdad, but now that I'm home I'm suddenly dangerous. Makes me a little worried about the people who make this
kinds of decisions.”

Mother of mercy - an accusation filed against her. This is where I stick my poll through the screen - notice the chopped off locks? Yesterday, I decided I needed to look like Dreyer's Joan of Arc, got out the scissors, and snip snip snip - anyway, kiddies, here's the plan. Please address Andres Serrano and ask him to make President Bush the honoree of his next art work. An' at this point I withdraw my head, the camera filling with a huge eyelid coming down - wink! on a huge eye, a la a Warner Bros. cartoon, circa 1945 - and we return you to your regularly scheduled post...

The PBS site for the film is here, complete with podcast of conversation with George Packer. Hmm.

And a quote:

Maria Hinojosa: There is a moment in your film, when people are getting ready for the election and they're being spoken to by an American military official who says, "Your elections are going to be the biggest show on earth, they're going to be seen all over. Your show." And the Iraqi says, "What do you mean this is a show?" and he was confused. Tell me about that scene.

Laura Poitras: It was actually a shoot that I fought really hard to get on. Some of the access I got in Iraq came serendipitously, some of it went through repeated, repeated emails. For that particular shoot, I knew that there was going to be training of police before elections, and then I got an email and officially, they said, "No, the training is not going to happen, it's not going to happen." But somebody else sent me an email from the military and said, "Listen, it's happening, you didn't hear it from me." I approached the military and I got in.

It was two days of training where the U.S. State Department and Justice Department had put together a manual for training Iraqi lieutenants. So these were Iraqi police officers who were high up, and the U.S. brought them from all over the country to do this training. I filmed for the whole two days and during this one particular scene, it's a contractor for the Justice and State Departments who was conducting this training and talking about this is going to be such a great show. But then you listen to the conversation that develops, and you realize that the people he's talking to — the Iraqi police — are going to be on the front lines, so these are the people who are going to die in the show.

Maria Hinojosa: That's what he's saying to them, "This isn't a show for us."

Forgive a bit of blind and stupid optimism, but I think the Poitras approach is going to blow up, eventually, the Dracula’s castle the plutocrats are making of this country. We creep up upon them. Loonies such as myself, practicing homemade black magic. Filmmakers getting riffs from war supporters that lead in unexpected directions. My suggestion for a political motto at the moment in these here states is: Brothers and sisters, let's not slaughter other people.

Radical, eh?


amie said…
LI. thanks for this. i'm going to try and see the Laura Poitras piece, even though i don't have a TV. (i won't get into HOW and WHY I GOT RID of MY TV, since that would require the combined talents of Nietzche, Ring Lardner and Guy Debord, and tonight i'm not quite up to the task.)
so here's someone who - bless her unembedded heart - wants to talk and listen to Iraqis! like radical man, wow! why would i bet my lifesavings of $666 that most Iraqis are not dreaming of martydom, the verdant houris and hills of heaven but want to live their lives - and want, for example, that when they send their six year old off to school there's a decent chance they will see her or him again in one piece! or when they go cast a vote in a election, they are not going to be treated to a SHOW, courtesy of Uncle Sam. jeez, everyone in the world knows what SHOWS engineered by Uncle Sam are about, whether they come from Hollywood or the Pentagon! that comment about the Iraqi election being the 'biggest show on earth' really has me seeing stars. not the Hollywood variety, but the ones that accompany a sharp hard slap to the face.
LI, i would like to affirm - and act on - your political motto of 'brothers and sisters, let's not slaughter each other.' it's very very radical to be sure. for a citizen-sockpuppet who tirelessly repeats as if in a trance the commander-in-chief's 'i believe' - though the SP is starting to stutter. admittedly, i want to sock the sock-puppet, but rather than do that i'm going to the Mars Bar and hanging out with les sans culottes. so, the sock-puppet is going to take the floor. damn, we need to find a way to stuff a sock in the sock-puppet.
thus sprache the sock-puppet:
LI, do you think the USA got to where it is by sharing stories and jokes over a peace pipe with injuns, etc.? nope. ah, i know there is the Constitution that some wrote, which is pretty good reading but so is Jane Austen, i mean get real. In years to come, who will remember the Constitution, compared to our real triumphs - from Hiroshima to Fallujah, ah, i'm not even going to list them all.
And , if we don't take care of their barbarian hordes out there they will invade our shores, threaten my home and my SUV - well, ok they're not mine as i owe a gizzilion in mortage and car loans - but you know what i mean. hell, they might even get into my TV room that i spent so much putting together, and god forbit i miss the next episode of American Idol...
roger said…
That's a pretty groovy riff, Amie - and the thought of Guy Debord, Nietzsche and Ring Lardner in one room stopped me cold for a moment. Do you suppose they'd start playing liar's poker?

LI's surprisingly sophisticated DVD capacity comes courtesy of my brother, who bought me my tv and - being an above average brother in general - realized that it had to have a built in DVD component. Otherwise, it would languish, due to my obvious inability to figure out how to steal cable.

As to the peace pipe question - well, of course, slavery and Indian killing were the building blocks of the expanding Republic - but it was a movement with countermovements built into it - peace pipe sharers, Mike Finks, John Browns, table rappers, and - one of my fave stories of survival - that member of the Donner party who not only endured a miserable winter of dining upon the dead, but - come spring thaw - made it out of the Sierra Nevadas to Sacremento and opened up a restaurant. Let others chose the statue of liberty or the lincoln memorial as emblems of this here Republic: I'm down with the Donner Party restaurant.

Anyway, the bloody mire of these days does make it seem like peace pipe America - or even the America of desperado spirits, Billy the Kid's place, where a man can defy the sheriff and become a hero - has been buried, but we will see who has the last laugh - us, the six foot under undead, or the governing class of undertakers.