We’ve heard them called deadenders and AQI, insurgents and terrorists, but most of us have no idea who they really are. The Iraqi resistance in the American media are mostly just “the bad guys.”
Today, two photojournalists, Molly Bingham and Steve Connors, are bringing us a very different view in their film Meeting Resistance. In Iraq at the time of the invasion – Molly had just spent time in Abu Ghraib after Saddam Hussein’s regime arrested her and several other journalists as possible spies – they went to work. While the major media teams celebrated shock and awe and, as mentioned in the accounts in Reporting Iraq, buried stories of US attacks on Iraqi civilians, Molly and Steve chased a very different story – the newly born Iraqi resistance.
Both were experienced in covering conflict zones and both had the patience and skills to understand how to locate and get permission to film interviews with the participants in the initial days of the resistance. More importantly both are dedicated to reporting the real story, not the propaganda.
As Steve said in an interview on Democracy Now:
We just behaved as journalists. We went out, and we just looked for people.
I mean, we did have one slight advantage. Molly had been working on another story before we started on this, and a guy that she met in the course of doing that story afterwards said to Molly’s translator, “I’m in the resistance.” You know, and he was just a regular guy.
In their film Molly and Steve introduce us to those “regular guys” in their own words, showing us the Iraqi experience of the invasion and occupation through Iraqi eyes. And we, for once, get the opportunity to see in a new way – and perhaps meet “the enemy” not as “bad guy” but as regular guy responding to the shattering of home, community, life.
Unlike so many political films – both left and right – which preach their own agenda and interpretation, Molly and Steve do not intrude. Instead they invite us to listen and look and learn.
As the filmakers wrote when introducing their film:
For the most part we place our dependence for understanding the situation in Iraq on the views of Western experts, analyzing from the sidelines and basing their assessments on government and military statements. Beyond the telling vox-pop quote in a news article, we only rarely get to hear the voices of the Iraqis themselves. Even less common is to hear directly from the people who are behind the violence. Meeting Resistance – relying on first hand accounts of the conflict from those involved on the ‘other side’ – is an effort to redress that imbalance, seeking to understand the factors underlying the carnage that has become characteristic of daily life in Iraq.
Meeting Resistance is beautifully filmed – the sensitive eyes of these photojournalists capture, in small gestures and the little details of everyday life, one neighborhood and the lives lived and lost there.
We owe it to the people of Iraq to look, to see, to begin to understand.
You can purchase the DVD directly from Meeting Resistance here – it is a film you will want to share.