After declining an invitation to "embed" with a U.S. Army unit in Iraq, film director Deborah Scranton went the military one better by supplying Sony miniDV video cameras to members of Charlie Company, 3rd of the 172nd Infantry (Mountain) Regiment. The result is the most compelling Iraq documentary to date. In The War Tapes, three politically diverse National Guardsmen on the ground in Baghdad and Fallujah tell their harrowing stories of combat and loss and bewilderment. It was a daunting task to edit more than 800 hours of tape into a coherent 97 minutes, but the results are astonishing. From the miles of raw footage, Scranton and producers Robert May and Steve James have fashioned a seemingly unfiltered, thoroughly disturbing vision of raw fear, raw emotion and raw violence -- salted with bleak battlefield humor -- that stands a world apart from the processed nonsense broadcast each day from Iraq by CNN and Fox News. Sergeant Zack Bazzi, a Lebanese-born U.S. soldier from Massachusetts who speaks Arabic, may speak for all of his comrades-in-arms when, distressed, he characterizes the war as "a train that's been set in motion -- you can't turn it around."
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The War Tapes begins a one-week run at Starz FilmCenter on Friday, September 1. Starz is at 900 Auraria Parkway, in the Tivoli building; for more information, call 303-820-3456 or go to www.denverfilm.org.