I just saw the world premiere of Battleground: 21 Days on the Empire’s Edge at the Mill Valley Film Festival. This is the story about Iraq we haven’t seen. It’s about the people of Iraq and what our invasion and occupation means to them. [QuickTime trailer]

But there’s a subtext that’s important to all Americans. Not only do we never get to see or read this story, we don’t even get to see this type of footage. Our billion-dollar news organizations only show us the latest car bombings and endless replays of about-to-occur beheadings. I blame the American media for this more than I blame the administration. If you get to see this film, you’ll know what I mean. If you’ve seen Control Room, about Al-Jazeera, you’ve had a hint. Battleground tells us much more of the story.

After the screening we had a Q&A with one of the film’s producers and she said there was currently no distributor for the 82-minute feature. To date, everyone has considered it “too controversial.” I hope that somehow it will be released and that you’ll be able to see it. It’s so well produced, I’m confident it will eventually find a distributor. In any case, keep your eyes open for it.

Here’s the blurb from the festival:

Intense, emotional and fascinating from the first frames to the last, Battleground goes beyond media madness and political posturing into the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and of American soldiers stationed on the front lines, to examine how the conflict has changed lives. Frank, a former anti-Saddam guerrilla and torture victim exiled for 13 years, finally returns to Iraq to see his family; Iraqis living without water or electricity wonder what has happened to their home in the name of “freedom and democracy”; American soldiers offer surprisingly candid views about the war. Shot over three weeks in late 2003, this superb documentary offers a real-world perspective you simply won’t see anywhere outside the Middle East.

The film was produced by Berkeley’s awesome Guerilla News Network, whose mission is “to expose people to important global issues through guerrilla programming on the web and on television” and who recently published True Lies, a book that also does what our mainstream media should be doing. Two thumbs way up for this film.

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