A short documentary film, “Incident in New Baghdad,” has been earning critical praise and awards as it goes from film festival to film festival. The short tells the story of Iraq war veteran Ethan McCord, a soldier who was at the scene of the “Collateral Murder” incident uncovered by WikiLeaks over a year ago. McCord rescued children, who were injured in the 2007 Apache helicopter attack that killed two Reuters journalists along with a “good samaritan” who tried to rescue the journalists that had been fired upon.
The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April. It won “Best Documentary Short” and went on to play at the Palm Springs Shortfest and the Rhode Island International Film Festival, where it won another “Best Documentary Short” award. The film’s director, James Spione, has now launched a campaign that will hopefully give the film the national recognition it needs to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Short Documentary.
Spione has put together a Kickstarter project for those who believe in the broader goal of the film, which is to show the “real meaning of war.” The documentary also shows a hero most Americans do not typically get to see on the news. That hero is a veteran, who has spoken out for the rights of those who suffer from PTSD and against the wars in the Middle East. Moved into action in the immediate aftermath of WikiLeaks’ release of the “Collateral Murder” video, McCord has been speaking out and sharing his experiences with children so they can know the truth of war.
At an event at Revolution Books in New York City on April 21, held to promote the new film, Spione discussed his initial reaction to the “Collateral Murder” video and how he was horrified. 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, Spione said, 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 when he found an interview with McCord. He thought it was interesting that McCord 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.
McCord’s experience is truly gut wrenching. Like most soldiers who experience war, he was deeply bothered by the fact that the Apache helicopter maimed civilians that day. Also at the event on April 21, he recalled the curdling screams of the little girl at the scene. He couldn’t leave the kids there to die.
The platoon leader told him to stop worrying about those “m’fin kids” and pull security. When McCord was back at the Forward Operating Base, he was having trouble coping with what happened. He wanted to get some mental health treatment and was laughed at by a superior officer and told to “suck it up” and get the sand out of his vagina.
The film depicts a “microcosm of the Iraq War,” one of the many incidents that occur on a daily basis in Iraq. It quite literally brings the war home and gives voice to a wide group of veteran soldiers who are expected to be silent in this country when they return home from home, expected to accept what treatment the US Department of Veterans Affairs manages to give to them and keep quiet so wars can continue to be waged without scrutiny.
Watch Ethan McCord speak in at the promotional event in April in the video posted above. Then, consider donating. Whether you can give $500 (and get a signed DVD, LA premiere tickets, and an “Associate Producer” credit plus a private dinner with Spione and McCord) or $5 (which will get you a heartfelt thank you and your name listed on a page on the film’s website), every little bit helps. (If you can’t donate, share this link widely so others can have the opportunity to be a part of this film’s success.)