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The War Tapes

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Original title
The War Tapes
Running time
97 min.
United States United States
Deborah Scranton
Norman Arnold
Deborah Scranton
SenArt Films
Documentary | Iraq War
Official Site
Synopsis / Plot
2006: Tribeca Film Festival: Best Documentary.

In March 2004, just as the insurgent movement strengthened, several members of one National Guard unit arrived in Iraq, carrying digital video cameras.

THE WAR TAPES is the movie they made with Director Deborah Scranton and a team of award-winning filmmakers. It’s the first war movie filmed by soldiers themselves on the front lines in Iraq. (Read the Director's Vision Statement.)

THE WAR TAPES follows three men: Sergeant Steve Pink, Sergeant Zack Bazzi, and Specialist Mike Moriarty. Steve is a young carpenter with a dark, irreverent sense of humor who joined the Guard for college money. Zack is an inquisitive, ironic traveler and university student. Mike is a husband and father of two, driven to fight by honor and redemption. You will see Operation Iraqi Freedom through their eyes.

The soldiers were not picked by casting agents or movie producers. They selected themselves. 10 soldiers from Charlie Company carried cameras on IED-riddled roads and into combat—and into their own internal conversations. They learned how to choose and tell their stories in constant instant message conversations with Director Scranton. They filmed under unbelievable conditions. The unit was based at LSA Anaconda in the deadly Sunni Triangle, under constant threat of ambush and IED attacks. They traveled, as a unit, 1.4 million miles during their tour, and lived through over 1,200 combat operations and 250 direct enemy engagements.

Because it’s filmed by citizen soldiers telling their own stories, THE WAR TAPES is funnier, spicier, and more wrenching than stories other people might tell about them.

All three men leave women at home – a mother, a girlfriend, and a wife. THE WAR TAPES – like any true story about war – engages the hard, tense, passionate, always difficult and sometimes beautiful way these relationships develop and change.

Director Deborah Scranton is a single mom with a journalism background and a passion for the infantry (her last documentary was about WWII vets). With Deborah’s guidance, the soldiers shot over 900 hours of videotape during their yearlong deployment. Another 200 hours of footage was shot back home by Deborah and her crew – all distilled into a 94 minute film. Deborah worked closely with Producer Robert May who executive produced the Academy Award winning FOG OF WAR; Producer and Editor Steve James, best known for the documentary HOOP DREAMS; and Executive Producer Chuck Lacy.

The unseen collaborator on the film is the internet. This is a Web 2.0 outside the wire – the intimate power of the internet exploding on the movie screen. Without instant messaging, the soldiers could never have become filmmakers – without email and cheap video, they soldiers could never have told their stories as they happened.

The soldiers’ unfailing candor and honesty defines the heart of this film. THE WAR TAPES is not afraid to show soldiers as fully complicated human beings –this is not reality TV, and it’s certainly not mainstream media coverage of the war. This is real war. These soldiers got the story the 2,700 embedded reporters never could.
2006: Tribeca Film Festival: Best Documentary
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