Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Australian filmmaker Wayne Coles-Janess's investigative documentary In the Shadow of the Palms of Iraq interviews a plethora of Iraqi civilians about their attitudes regarding the fall of Saddam Hussein and the U.S. government's aggressive attempt to reshape the country by setting up a democratic system. The film employs extensive footage shot at three stages: prior to Saddam's deposition, during the actual fall of the government (c. 2003) and throughout the subsequent U.S. occupation. In the process, Coles-Janess cross-sections the sociopolitical and ideological attitudes of virtually half of Iraqi society - contrasting the relatively serene and placid attitudes that emerge before the bombings with widespread confusion, panic and chaos that ensue. Coles-Janess's interviewees include: an Olympic wrestling coach, a shoemaker, an instructor who teaches Arabic poetry, a Palestinian translator and innumerable others; the director encourages each subject to expostulate, free-form, on their gut level feelings about the tumultuous changes sweeping the landscape. What emerges are portraits of many ordinary lives destroyed by warfare (one subject simply disappears, another loses his job indefinitely, others are wiped out). Coles-Janess also utilizes a number of sequences that shed light on U.S. troops self-admittedly ignorant of who they are fighting - haunting scenes that more than echo Vietnam.
Iraqi [nationality], Middle-East, occupation [military], regime, Iraq