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La Section "White", Bagdad 2004
© Compagnie des phares et balises

Nous avons passé plusieurs mois dans le sud de Bagdad en compagnie de la section "White" de la 1/7ème division de cavalerie de l’armée américaine. Avec deux caméras, nous les avons filmés tout au long de leur mission, jusqu’à leur retour dans leurs familles au Texas. Nous livrons ici un portrait intime de la guerre en Irak et des hommes derrière les soldats. Les quatre soldats de la section Anderson sont les personnages principaux de ce film. C’est leur histoire que l’on raconte ici, mais ce pourrait être celle des 140 000 autres soldats actuellement en poste en Irak. Depuis le transfert symbolique du pouvoir au peuple irakien jusqu’au jour sanglant de l’élection et aux retrouvailles des soldats en Amérique avec leurs familles, nous avons suivi ces hommes. De jeunes soldats enthousiastes, ils sont devenus vétérans de guerre, endurcis et cyniques : ces hommes ne seront plus jamais comme avant.

Film-makers, Yuri Maldavsky and Tim Grucza, spent several months over the course of the year in southern Baghdad with the White platoon of the 1/7 cavalry division. Shot with two cameras and following them all the way back to their home town in Texas, their unique access gives an intimate portrait of the war in Iraq and the ‘man behind the soldier’ who fights it. "For the excitement, the adventure", that’s why they joined the army, "(being in Iraq) I feel like I’m part of something, part of history", Sgt. Alajmi said in June, just two months into his tour. His eyes gleam, an American flag hangs around his soldiers. Most young soldiers had so far based their experience of war on what they saw in movies about Vietnam. When the platoon’s medic, SPC Chad Johnson’s leg is blown off at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a sewage pumping station they helped to rebuild, fiction becomes a harsh reality. "When I stood up out of the hatch there was Iraqi children and Iraqi people spread all over the place, body parts everywhere" tells SSG Jones. Then the second car bomb exploded. The soldiers, mostly medics, who’d gone to help the survivors were hit hardest. "It makes you feel kind of worthless", Jones continues, "You’re just out there trying to do your job, give the Iraqis a better life, then someone comes in and tries to blow it all up, soldiers, children and Iraqi people". SPC Bobb now just wishes the US had never have come to Iraq, "I wouldn’t want somebody coming into my country telling me "Do this because it’s right, we’re trying to help you’. Yeah we might think that but they don’t". Bobb’s understanding of the Iraqi mindset is simple, "I don’t give a fuck if you’re trying to help me, get the fuck out". SGT Barton’s frustration is permeable. "To me being here is like living a lie, to the American public and the Iraqi people because I know what really goes on and what they put on the news ... it’s all bullshit". Disillusionment, frustration, heat, dust and the 24-hour a day threat of danger builds to aggression. The soldiers plan to play out the rest of their tour with only one mission in mind. To stay alive. The film focuses on 6 main characters from Anderson's platoon, but their story is typical of many of the 140,000 soldiers stationed in Iraq during 2004, known as Operation Iraqi Freedom II. From the symbolic handover of power to the Iraqi people to the under publicised bloody election day to the tearful reunion with families and wounded colleagues, we follow these characters as they transform from eager young soldiers into hardened, cynical war veterans, changed men who will never be the same again.