Dir/prod: Robert Greenwald. US. 90mins.
Lessflamboyant than Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 - and, therefore,perhaps less superficially entertaining - Uncovered: The War On Iraq isa must-see for every American who cares about their country, regardless oftheir political persuasion.
While the twofilms reach a similar conclusion - that the Bush administrations statedrationale for war was bogus - Greenwald's documentary takes a morestraightforward and intellectual approach to the subject. American and internationalaudiences uncomfortable with Moore's grandstanding and his unabashedly partisantone will find more compelling material here, including chilling evidence thatmembers of the Bush team at the very least misread or misinterpretedintelligence, or, more sinisterly that they purposefully distorted andmisrepresented it.
The film'scommercial prospects in its home territory will depend on how willing Americansof all political views are to studying the issue before the November election.International audiences will applaud the film, which confirms long held beliefsabout current US policy, but how many people are willing to plunk down money atthe theatre at the theatre is unclear, perhaps preferring to wait for the videorelease. Ancillary markets look unusually strong. The film, which has beenrequested by Deauville, Venice, Locarno and London in the coming months, opensin New York on Aug 13, followed by an East Coast expansion before plays in LosAngeles from Sept 3.
Initiallyreleased as a 57-minute video that was partially funded by the movie activistgroup MoveOn.org, the material has been updated and expanded into a 90-minutefeature.
As before, thefilm presents in detail the governments stated reasons for invading Iraq,including contention that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction(WMDs), and rebuttals from an impressive array of government anti-terrorismexperts, veteran CIA analysts, diplomats and career personnel, many of themBush appointees.
The new filmalso turns a sharp eye on the mainstream media, which it charges with failingto turn a more critical eye on government claims, and delves into thegovernments reliance on informers, most, if not all, of whom have since beendiscredited. Sound clips of Bush Administration personnel are intercut withconflicting testimony from the panel of experts.
The film'sstrength is its roster of interviewees, people with no obvious political axe togrind, who speak in completely non-emotional, non-judgemental tones. All areimpressive, but particularly persuasive are weapons inspectors David Kay andScott Ritter, the latter declaring that he voted for Bush in the last electionbut did not let that get in the way of his findings.
Otherinterviewees of note include former ambassador Joe Wilson; retired CIA analystRay McGovern, a 27-year veteran of the agency whose duties included preparingthe daily briefing for the president; physicist and nuclear weapons expertDavid Albright; and Rand Beers, who served as a National Security Council adviserto five presidents, including Reagan and the first Bush.
The marketscreening at Cannes recently was a work-in-progress (a final scene is to beadded) and was marred by technical problems. The film had to be started threetimes before the bugs were worked out but the production is chocked full ofchilling and damning information that is never less than riveting. It is animportant document that should be requiring viewing for every voter in anincreasingly polarised American society.
Prod cos:MoveOn.org, The Centre For American Progress
USdist: CinemaLibre Distribution
Int'l dist: Cinema Libre International, (1) 818349 8822, www.cinemalibrestudio.com
Co-prods:Kate McArdle, Devin Smith, Philippe Diaz