Sunday, September 7, 2008

No End In Sight

via NY Times: starting Monday, September 8th, Charles Ferguson will release his widely decorated* No End in Sight, on YouTube. No End in Sight is Ferguson's tragically compelling documentary on the buildup to the Iraq war (and the US blunders that made. everything. worse.). the film will screen there until election day, November 4th.

i reviewed the film some time ago, for a piece in PRE/TEXT (that issue is still in "upcoming" mode). but so by now it may seem irelevant to read it there as a way of enticing you to see the film. instead, go watch it on YouTube with my recommendation and this (my) brief review:

if you were like me and put your head between your pillows for the past 8 years, you will find this film useful as it replays the moves that bungled our US ethos via the war, and etc., etc. but even for the very well-informed, this film offers key insights regarding the critical failures shaping the Iraq war and US "miscalculation" regarding the reconstruction of Iraq's military, infrastructure, etc., etc. the great achievement of the film is in many ways found in Ferguson's rhetorical move to employ the particular characters who tell its story, mostly Republicans who had been early on tasked with Iraqi rebuilding efforts. the key players who retell the story of the emerging Iraq war are people who had worked effectively with local Iraqis only to later have their efforts destroyed by ill-informed broad-strokes enacted by emergent power players who aligned more neatly with administratively dominant, simplistic notions of what the war was/is about. so, whereas some viewers may be inclined to resist the film as a product of the phantom "liberal media," Ferguson's staging tactics forestall such simplistic assumptions.

here. watch the trailer:

* the film is the recipient of several notable Best Documentary awards,
including a Sundance 2007 Documentary Special Jury Prize.


chris said...


I'm intrigued! Any time a film maker or agent of the media can get critical policy and decision makers on the record my interest is piqued.

You know, I'm pretty plugged in to left-leaning sources. And it's no struggle to dig up documentaries, articles, blogs, whatever that condemn the war, this administration and any number of other things Bush-related. I'd be curious to know, are there similar "award winning" documentaries that are supportive of the war? Are there at least documentaries that present something akin to support? That is, something that isn't a Toby Keith song or video?

bonnie lenore kyburz said...

hey Chris,

i don't know of any specific films devoted to supporting the war, although i'm pretty sure they exist.

like i said, for a film that is not shy about its stance, i so appreciate that the voices we hear are not speaking from their identification with party but more from the actual lived experiences of frustrated individuals suffering the bad decisions of the Bush administration in the context of this war.

i hope you watch the film and let me know how you respond.


bonnie lenore kyburz said...

in a piece i wrote for another publication (and relevant to our comments about who speaks in the film):

"... the film becomes quite focused and intense when we get to Director of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance Paul Bremmer and his tactical mistakes, especially the disbanding of the Iraqi Army. On this matter, Ferguson interviews former Deputary Secretary of State Richard Armitage:

'I think this decision to disband the [Iraqi] Army came as a surprise to most of us…'

Q: 'What was your reaction?'

Armitage: 'I thought we had just created a problem. We had a lot of out of work [Iraqi] soldiers.'

In my weeks and months and years of ignorance, I hadn’t quite put together Bremmer’s mistakes with the emerging insurgency, but the relationship couldn’t be clearer in Ferguson’s film. It doesn’t hurt that Ferguson features interview footage from U.S. Marine Lieutenant Seth Moulton, who is critical of several tactical blunders; it doesn’t hurt that Moulton is so nice looking . . . a prototypical but not scary Marine . . . strong-jawed, clear-eyed (it shouldn’t matter, but somehow it does). Both Ferguson and Moulton (whose words close the film as he says “America can do better,” and is currently writing a book on his war experiences and disappointments) attended our screening [at Sundance 2007], and the Q & A was lively and engaging."

fwiw :)

chris said...

"it shouldn't matter but somehow it does" Uh, Ye-ah. It matters. Can you say "Palin?" That's a component of the popularity that MSM can't touch, but in our society youth and beauty are prized as much as athleticism and money. These are the gold standard for cultural capital. Beauty and/or money = (near) instant ethos.

And, yes, I intend to watch it and hit you back with my thoughts.

bonnie lenore kyburz said...

cool. it's up at YouTube now.

chris said...

I finished watching it this afternoon. Here's a thought or two: the stand-up folks who are willing to "speak up", yeah, hate to say this, but they're just as culpable as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld. The "truth" isn't all that helpful now. It's so frustrating to watch a video like that, to hear Rumsfeld's press conferences (and the media's lack of critique), to hear these criticisms (in hindsight), to know that more (or less) could have been done...
If the folks in the documentary are/were so outraged with the decisions and execution of the war didn't they have an obligation to speak up?
Maybe I'm just projecting my frustration onto them. Which is unfair, I'm sure.
So many Americans oppose the Iraq war now. Why couldn't they identify and understand the flaws back in 2003? Why were opposition voices silenced so?
The issue is so perplexing to me. For example, die-hard war-hawks who refused to question the administration's judgment and who are now vehemently opposed to the war willingly or blindly buy into the McCain campaign rhetoric about "security" and judgment. It's utterly baffling. Completely confounding. I'm bewildered on a daily basis.
There can be no doubt that this is one of the reasons Obama wants to invest so much in Education.

stand up straight & let me get a look at you

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