Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Independent Movie Making Lifts The Lid On America's Foreign Policy In The Middle East: Breakdown - Video Excerpts

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Independent movie making has been given a new lease of life by the internet, allowing film makers across the world to get their message out to millions and counter the mass media propaganda machine.

Photo credit: (c) Owl Film Productions

Using open media to spread the word virally, hugely popular online destinations like social networking site MySpace and video sharing site YouTube prove effective ways to bring movies to people's attention without having to resort to the big money marketing campaigns of the Hollywood studios.

Breakdown is one such example, an independent documentary that lifts the lid on America's foreign policy in the Middle East - from the exploitation of 9/11 and the war on terror facade, to the occupation of Iraq and invasion of Afghanistan.

Breakdown is a feature length documentary that has garnered a lot of attention online by releasing excerpts to YouTube, and opening its content up to discussion via a MySpace presence.

Telling its story in six parts, each with a distinctive theme, Breakdown attempts to ask the question''Is US Foreign Policy completely out of control?''. Unlike mass media reportage of America's aggressive interventionist policies of the last decade, Breakdown attempts to address the key issues, and motivations behind the four wars and countless deaths that have been visited upon the Middle East.

In the following key excerpts from the film, I look at the way that the independent movie making process has allowed important questions to be raised, questions that might otherwise have been swept aside by the mainstream coverage of a brutal but far from senseless decade of aggressive foreign policy decision making.

The Exploitation of 9/11

In this first clip from the movie, the idea that the American government took advantage of the 9/11 tragedy is explored. As it is explained in the movie, in the months prior to 9/11 Bush had announced a new energy policy in which he:

''... called for increased US reliance on the Persian Gulf, on the Caspian Sea, on Africa and Latin America to supply even more oil to the United States. And he saw this as requiring a military build up to protect the flow of oil. So then 9/11 came along, and provided the excuse or the justification for accelerating the process of inserting American military power into this region, and to the Caspian and Africa and Latin America to fight against terrorism, but the strategic roots of this policy were in place before 9/11."

American Foreign Policy in the Middle East has been consistently driven by the desire to gain further control of oil, and this has been routinely whitewashed with talk of humanitarian aid, weapons of mass destruction that never materialized, and far fetched plots that would make the most seasoned conspiracy theorist blush. Linking Iraq, terrorism and fictional weapons of mass destruction into a consistent lie, propagated by mainstream mass media, the Bush administration has attempted to justify its aggressive preservation of its own interests.

Breaking the War On Terror facade

The War On Terror - perhaps the most nebulous and infinitely extendable excuse to wage war since the spread of communism ceased to function as a propaganda tool - was connected to Iraq in an attempt to justify the deployment of thousands of US troops to the area, in what was to be dubbed a 'liberation'. But as Erik Gustafson, a veteran of the first gulf war and Director of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, explains in the next clip:

''Prior to the overthrow of Saddham, and the chaos of the aftermath, the only terrorism was Saddham Hussein against his own people. There was not Al Qaeda, there was not the kind of terrorism that we're seeing right now in Iraq. And so that's the horrible legacy that the Iraqi people are having to deal with.

What's ironic is President Bush telling the American people that "we have to bring the fight to the terrorists", as if the terrorists were in Iraq all along. What we've actually done is we've brought the terrorists to the Iraqi people.''

American foreign policy in the Middle East can hide behind the War on Terror as a convenient means to an end - in shifting the locus from a nation to a concept, troops can be deployed throughout the Middle East to any location where there are rich pickings to be grabbed and protected.

The Occupation of Iraq

The independent movie making approach allows for a different story to be told to that repeatedly brought to people's home through their TVs. In the next clip from the movie, American troops give frank testimony to the impact of their presence in Iraq, and their confusion over the non-existence of WMDs. These voices of descent from veterans are very rarely given any coverage in ongoing news being sent back from the Iraq occupation. As Benjamin Buch, a Major in the US Marine Corps. explains:

''What you're seeing now is an entire military that is being told, "Oh yeah, the whole thing's a mistake, sorry, but you still have to deal with it. We can't pull you out...

They're no longer liberators, they're occupiers. And they're being received with a lack of grace, and in that it's making them, I'm sure, vengeful. As soon as you lose friends, your disposition changes. And it is hard to embrace a people who you now blame.''

With American troops that don't want to be there and Iraqi people driven to nationalism, extremism and hatred by the continued presence of what has become an occupying force, drawing terrorism into their country, the question remains: why are American forces still in Iraq?

Independent Movie Making And Web 2.0

Independent movie making like that of Breakdown would have had a lot harder time of representing this radical and alternative perspective on events prior to the emerging Web 2.0 media landscape. It is now possible, with little or no budget, to tap into the vast social networks and video sharing sites that are coming to dominate the internet.

The opportunity to challenge the mass media on its own terms, and to present alternatives to the perspective of an elite few are recent and powerful tools that can be leveraged by independents willing to make use of internet video. Truth and investigation are no longer the preserve of large corporations with vested interests - in the age of citizen journalism, mash ups, video sharing and social networks there are now more chances for alternative points of view to emerge across the media.

Breakdown is wise in tapping into MySpace and YouTube's vast audiences in virally disseminating its powerful message. This is a lesson that can be learnt by independent producers of all backgrounds and scales of operation. Don't lock up your work and attempt to protect it from being distributed - the network is one of the most powerful ways of getting your message noticed, your independent production seen, and your controversial claims out into the open.

Read More Elsewhere:

Michael Pick - [ Read more ]
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posted by Michael Pick on Saturday, November 18 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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