Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine
Once Upon a Time in Iraq
Directed by award-winning filmmaker James Bluemel, this powerful five-part documentary series is essential, if often harrowing, viewing.
Focusing on the background to, the reality on the ground and the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq War, it features not the politicians responsible for starting the conflict but ordinary people who had to deal with the consequences of their decisions. These include Iraqi citizens whose lives were changed forever by the war in their country, losing homes and loved ones in the senseless carnage, the US soldiers of various ranks who had to carry out sometimes questionable orders from above and who also lost comrades, and journalists and photographers who were covering events.
New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins and the freelance photographer Ashley Gilbertson who worked with him tell compelling stories of their time covering the violence and destruction, and the personal cost that goes with it, as does Waleed Nesyif, who was just 18 when the US invaded and he began working as a translator for foreign correspondents.
Bluemel is a quiet, compassionate listener, patiently waiting – with the camera rolling – as an interviewee lapses into silence, lights a cigarette or tries to compose themselves.
It is incredibly moving, shocking and sad to see, nearly 20 years on, the still raw effects of a war that, you could argue, should never have happened.