The War Tapes (2006)
John Burns, the Baghdad bureau chief for the New York Times, calls this film "the single best document (book, film, or article) you could see on the war in Iraq." Director Deborah Scranton taught three soldiers from New Hampshire's National Guard—Steve Pink, Mike Moriarty, and the Lebanese-American Zack Bazzi who is fluent in Arabic—how to use a camera, then edited their 800 hours of war footage down to 97 minutes. The result is a first person visual narrative of the war in Iraq. It's probably about as close as you can get to experiencing war vicariously—the chaos, bravado, feelings of helplessness, fear, vulgarity, boredom, and cynicism. Endless rows of charred vehicles in an equipment cemetery. Security escorts protecting convoys of Halliburton trucks carrying septic waste ("follow that shit truck!") or cheese cake. Children everywhere. And yes, IEDs and daily mortar attacks lobbed into Camp Anaconda. The film documents the stories of the three soldiers from their deployment to their return to their families and post war symptoms, including several takes with their wives back home interspersed throughout the film. Parts of this film are very hard to watch.