Michael Franti - Director Catherine Enny - Producer Carla Swanson - Editor Wonder Knack - Editor John Neff - Sound Engineer
Best International Documentary ~ Harlem Film Festival
2nd Annual Nazareth In'tl Film Festival 2007 WORLD COMMUNITY FILM FESTIVAL San Francisco World Film Festival 2005 Slamdance International Film Festival 2005 Maui International Film Festival 2005 Rotterdam International Film Festival 2005 Opendoek and Amnesty int'l Film Festival 2005 Brisbane International Film Festival 2005
This film came out of my frustration with watching the nightly news and hearing generals, politicians and pundits, explaining the political and economic cost of the war in the Middle East, without ever mentioning the human cost. I wanted to hear about the war by the people affected by it most: doctors, nurses, poets, artists, soldiers and my personal favorite, musicians. So I bought some plane tickets and headed to Iraq, Israel and the occupied territories of Palestine. I was joined on the trip by several friends who wanted to see the war first hand as well: two human rights lawyers, my manager, a drum tech, a retired U.S. Army captain and a beauty salon owner (just for good measure).
When I first had the idea for this journey, I had no idea how to get to Iraq and almost no idea how to make a film. After discovering that all you need to get into Iraq is a plane ticket, I prayed that movie making would be that simple. It aint... so I did what I suggest any first time filmmaker should do, surround myself with the most talented and passionate editors, photographers and sound people I could find, give them direction, and then stay out of the way as much as possible.
When I arrived in Iraq I had little planned except that I knew I wanted to play guitar and sing on the street, in homes, hospitals, military outposts or anywhere people were ready to recieve it.
My intention was to not only capture emotions on film but to record them In song. I wrote several songs used in the film while I was on the trip itself and then wrote 15 more as I poured over two hundred of hours of footage. I divided my time equally between writing and recording songs downstairs in my music studio, and directing upstairs in the video bay.
Although war is the most politically weighted subject one could ever take on, I did not want to make a political movie. Instead, I wanted to make a film about people, and the things they do to overcome the stresses of war and occupation: chief among these being friendship, humor, art and music.
Upon my return from the Middle East in June, we started digitizing and reviewing the footage on my tour bus, as I was on the road with my band in Europe the day after I returned home (I do not advise anyone to attempt this).
I tell stories through my songs and spoken word, and approached the film in the same way. We let the images and music flow together as I re-told the story with voiceover and lyrics inspired from the journey. In taking this organic approach, I believe we gave unique insight into what people are facing in the Middle East today.
I am incredibly indebted to the people of Iraq, Israel and Palestine as well as all the Soldiers who spoke so candidly for our cameras and have done my best to share their stories in the film. The most powerful thing I learned throughout the whole experience is how the gift of music opens all of our hearts and how in these times, that gift is more meaningful than ever.