Filmmaker James Spione delivers a compelling short documentary, which pushes you deep within the psyche of an ordinary U.S Soldier, during an unnecessary and tragic moment.
It is one of five films nominated in the Documentary Short Subject category at the Academy Awards.
‘Incident in New Baghdad’ expands on the WikiLeaks cockpit video from July 2007, which showed the unprovoked killing of civilians and Reuter journalists by U.S attack helicopters.
Through the photographs and memory of U.S Army Specialist Ethan McCord, who was in the vicinity at the time, we are taken back to the fateful event, and in particularly, the rescue response by Mr McCord to those who were still alive.
”I didn’t shoot the children” he says, ”But I am part of the system”.
The incident changed McCord’s belief of the war; ”I no longer felt that I was doing good in Iraq”.
By war’s end, he was a shattered soldier, mentally shackled by the horrors he witnessed and could no prevent.
He now suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and McCord has become an advocate for better treatment and understanding of mental issues faced by soldiers.
The most intriguing aspect that ‘Incident in New Baghdad’ raises, is the apparent disregard by military superiors towards PTSD. McCord is one of many soldiers who are told to face up to their demons and continue fighting – and that treatment of the condition borders on desertion of your role as a soldier.
I would have liked this issue to be further investigated in the film. McCord now travels the breadth of America, speaking about the difficulties faced trying to deal with the memories of war. But there is no footage of McCord’s journey. It almost feels as though ‘Incident in New Baghdad’ is incomplete.
However, by WikiLeaks releasing the classified footage in 2010, it also unlocked a memory in McCord’s mind that he was trying to suppress.
The documentary now becomes an important outlet in which McCord can grieve. His memories are now transferred to us. We now are part of his journey.
At a running time of 22 minutes, the documentary delivers extremely confronting and violent images. But important images. By adding a further dimension to the famous WikiLeaks footage, James Spione has now lifted the incident from a grainy black and white video, right up to our face. We must not look away.
Director: James Spione
Score: 3.5 stars