An Unfair War - Post Mortem

July 30, 2006

I've received various emails and comments about my last film An Unfair War. Some supportive, some critical. While a topic such as war is inherently controversial, what most people agree on is that the film's setting is the ongoing American invasion of Iraq. Now, I will admit a major mistake as a filmmaker with regards to this. The film was intended to be ambiguous about its setting and character. It wasn't necessarily meant to be about the Iraqi war - it was meant to be about every war. There are three things in the film that link it too closely to Iraq for my liking:
  • Timing - The film was released as the war was (still is) ongoing. Obviously, an anti-war film released during that war is seen as a direct reaction to it.
  • Character - The film's only character looks like an Arab, or so I've been told. He isn't though - he's Simlish. He's a video game character (cartoonish, as opposed to the ultrarealism of, say, Unreal 3), made from default parts from The Sims 2.
  • Dialogue - One particular line in the film reads, "I don't care if I'm 'defended' or 'liberated'." I'm pretty sure those words were used by the Bush Administration to describe their war at some point.

Other than those points, the film offers no real clue to its setting. There's no naming of a specific country or a nationality or a religion. It was intended to be ambiguous so that the viewer puts their own politics into it, and from that, defines the film's setting and character. That's also why there's no voice over - as the viewer reads the dialogue, they define what the man sounds like in their minds: his tone and accent. The film's ambiguity (should) allow it to apply to any war, because while the location and the participants may change, the message is the same: innocent people die. If I could do a George Lucas, I'd cut about 30 seconds of the film with reference to the points above.

In the end, this film isn't about President Bush or Iraqi insurgents or Hezbollah guerrillas or the Israeli government or Sudanese warlords or Chechen rebels; it's about the people who are counted in the 'collateral damage' column. People who die because they are born as they are, living in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

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