Film: Targets – Reporters in Iraq (2005)

March 8, 2015 | By


TargetsReportersInIraq_snapshotFilm: Very Good

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Genre:  Documentary / War

Synopsis:  Prescient, provocative documentary on the perils of photo-journalists who venture to war zones and lawless swathes in Iraq where their work could get them kidnapped, and killed.

Special Features:  n/a 




Back in 2005, the journalists in Maziar Bahari’s documentary were already commenting on the increasing dangers faced when covering war zones in the Middle East, in which press passes and credentials no longer guaranteed safety or cooperation, and being a western press agent almost ensured their status as perfect ransom targets or props for a media campaign to shock the world with filmed murders.

Central to the doc’s tale is Canadian Scott Taylor, who was snatched, tortured, and at one point told by captors he would be beheaded the next day; and Hannah Allam, whose colleague lost her entire family in a targeted murder spree. Journalists also have less than ideal options in how to cover news events: in a convoy, surrounded by hired security guards trained to prevent assassinations and kidnappings; or embedded with the military, traveling under their protection, but restricted to less dangerous regions that offer perhaps lower quality news, if any.

The lack of information ultimately allows terrorist organizations to create their own P.R. which can’t be scrutinized or verified by outside sources. What ultimately emerges in western media are vague assessments and op-ed pieces, and regular roundtable discussions with so-called cultural experts that recycle theories with the occasional amendment or update.

Within the doc’s 47 mins. there are some harrowing and tragic stories that remind viewers of the cost and sacrifices made by journalists wanting to expose and contextualize conflicts, and make stories from afar resonate instead of fade into the blur of regurgitated sound-bites and fearful op-eds.

Maziar Bahari’s recent directorial work is the documentary To Light a Candle (2014), and some of his prior work is available online, including Mohammad and the Matchmaker (2004) and And Along Came a Spider (2003) on YouTube; and Targets: Reporters in Iraq (2005),  An Iranian Odyssey: Mossadegh, Oil and the 1953 Coup (2010), and From Cyrus to Ahmadinejad: The Not So Secret Iran-Israel War (2012) on Vimeo.

His 2009 incarceration in an Iranian jail was recently dramatized by Jon Stewart in the film Rosewater (2014).



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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