De Palma’s “Redacted” Stuns Venice Film Fest

September 5th, 2007 - by admin

Silvia Aloisi / Reuters – 2007-09-05 23:16:18

VENICE (August 31, 2007) — A new film about the real-life rape and killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by US soldiers who also murdered her family stunned the Venice festival, with shocking images that left some viewers in tears.

“Redacted”, by US director Brian De Palma, is one of at least eight American films on the war in Iraq due for release in the next few months and the first of two movies on the conflict screening in Venice’s main competition.

Inspired by one of the most serious crimes committed by American soldiers in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, it is a harrowing indictment of the conflict and spares the audience no brutality to get its message across.

De Palma, 66, whose “Casualties of War” in 1989 told a similar tale of abuse by American soldiers in Vietnam, makes no secret of the goal he is hoping to achieve with the film’s images, all based on real material he found on the Internet.

“The movie is an attempt to bring the reality of what is happening in Iraq to the American people,” he told reporters after a press screening.

“The pictures are what will stop the war. One only hopes that these images will get the public incensed enough to motivate their Congressmen to vote against this war,” he said.

Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi was gang raped, killed and burnt by American soldiers in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, in March 2006. Her parents and younger daughter were also killed.

Iraq Marches onto Center Stage at Venice Film Fest

(September 2, 2007) — The Iraq war is in the spotlight at the Venice film festival for the second day running on Saturday with a Canadian film showing the harrowing toll the conflict takes on returning US soldiers.

The day after the screening of “Redacted,” Brian De Palma’s dramatisation laying out the shocking facts of a rape and multiple murder in Iraq, Paul Haggis was to unveil “In the Valley of Elah,” also inspired by true events, this time on US soil.

Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon play the parents of a soldier who goes missing shortly after returning from Iraq.
The father’s search for their son, aided by a feisty police detective played by Charlize Theron, turns into a murder mystery that slowly uncovers hard truths about the Iraq war and its traumatising effects on US soldiers.

In discovering the brutality of which his son was capable, among many other disturbing revelations, Jones’ character Hank Deerfield, a former military MP, has to upturn long-held beliefs.

Saturday’s lineup also includes British director Ken Loach’s “It’s a Free World,” about a gritty young woman named Angie (Kierston Wareing) who gets sacked from an employment agency and decides to set up one of her own along with her flatmate Rosie (Juliet Ellis).

Set in a down-and-out section of London plagued by gangs and full of job-hungry migrants, legal and otherwise, the film paints a dual portrait of determination and desperation.

De Palma’s “Redacted” centres on the actual March 2006 rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi schoolgirl by US soldiers who also slaughtered three family members.

Like Haggis’s film, it hits hard with its portrayal of the conditions, attitudes and stresses that led up to the real-life crime that saw Private First Class Jesse Spielman sentenced in early August to 110 years in prison.

Shown through the imaginary video lens of one of the soldiers involved in the raid on the girl’s home, De Palma’s dramatisation is interlaced with actual news clips, documentary footage and stills from the war.
Friday also featured the George Clooney thriller “Michael Clayton”, in which he plays a “fixer” for an enormous New York law firm.

Tasked with sorting out embarrassments behind the scenes for its megaclients, he finds himself in a moral dilemma — and in mortal danger — while trying to help the firm protect a client with a carcinogenic product.

On Saturday, French filmmaker Eric Rohmer will offer “Les Amours d’Astree et de Celadon” (The Romance of Astree and Celadon), a love story set in the time of the druids in what is now France’s Auvergne region.

Rohmer, 77, has informed the festival that he is unable to attend.

Expected to grace the red carpet Saturday evening are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Pitt’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford” is on the menu for Sunday.

Woody Allen is also expected ahead of the Sunday screening of his “Cassandra’s Dream.”

And US director Spike Lee will turn up at the fabled Hotel Excelsior to promote the new Babelgum Online Film Festival, the first of its kind, as its creative director.

The Italian festival has a heavy weighting of US and British entries this year — nine of the 23 films in competition for the Golden Lion — though Asian cinema also has a strong showing.

The 23rd film to be shown has been listed as a “surprise”, with organisers saying only that it was from an Asian country.

Copyright AFP 2007.

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