2011-04-23 Director of New Film on 'Collateral Murder': It's a 'Perfect Microcosm" of Iraq War

A new short documentary called, “Incident in New Baghdad,” premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on Sunday. The film tells the story of Iraq war veteran Ethan McCord, a soldier who appears in the “Collateral Murder” video rescuing two wounded children.

The director, James Spione, attended an event at Revolution Books in NYC on April 21, 2011. He talks about his initial reaction to the video WikiLeaks released and how he was horrified. But, then he began to pay attention to the media response and found it was pretty much the same on every channel.

It didn’t matter if it was Fox, ABC, CNN, CBS or MSNBC. It really didn’t matter. For the most part, each media channel’s response was “let’s find two people with opinions we know in advance and we’ll have them argue about this and they’ll say things we already know they are going to say and we’ll say that we were journalists and we did our job. And, it’s bullshit.”

Spione was doing research on the Internet and he found an interview with McCord. He thought it was interesting that he had actually been on the scene and wondered why the media was not talking to him about the incident. So, he decided to fly out and spend some days in Wichita, Kansas meeting McCord, shooting and doing an extensive interview for the film.

This is Spione’s “first political film.” He says he has done fiction films and in the last ten years has become more and more involved in documentary filmmaking. With this short film, he hopes to make it into a longer film that will look at the incidents from different points of view—the point of view of Iraqis, dissenting views from his company that was on the scene—because, as he concludes, the “Collateral Murder” incident is a “perfect microcosm” of the Iraq War.

Also, McCord, who was in NYC to attend the festival premiere of the film with director James Spione, recounted the incident and I shot and edited a clip of him speaking for TheNation.com.

McCord describes what it was like that day to see the civilians maimed by the Apache helicopter. He talks about rescuing a girl and boy from a van. Their father, who was trying to help two journalists killed in the incident, was dead.

His platoon leader told him to stop worrying about thos “m’fin kids” and pull security. When he was back at the Forward Operating Base, he was having trouble coping with what happened, he says. He wanted to see mental health. He was laughed at by a superior officer and told to “suck it up” and get the sand out of his vagina.

For what it’s worth, McCord thinks the weapons the civilians had out were probably for show, meaning they saw the journalists and wanted to get their picture taken and be made famous.

The “Collateral Murder” incident was “one incident of many,” McCord concludes. Things like that happen on a daily basis in Iraq and you can see from that incident, he says, we should not be in Iraq.

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