Nov 26, 2007

Anti-Iraq War Movie “Redacted” Is Drawing Fire as It Comes to Michigan

Critics of the anti-Iraq war film “Redacted” plan to continue their nationwide boycott effort when the movie opens in the Detroit area on Friday.

The film, by Academy Award-winning director Brian De Palma, was financed by self-made millionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks. It's a fictionalized story about the brutality of combat, based on the March 2006 rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl and the killing of her entire family near Baghdad by four members of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, and the cover-up that followed. Several soldiers have been convicted in connection with the crimes.

The boycott includes the Mavericks and their sponsors, and other companies owned by Cuban, including HD Net, Magnolia Pictures and Landmark Theatres. Conservative Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has also supported the boycott of the movie.

John Howell, a former U.S. Marine from Illinois who says he became involved in the boycott from writing about Iraq on his Web site, was a guest on Frank Beckmann’s radio show on WJR-AM last week to talk about the campaign.

“I don’t know why anyone would see a movie when Brian De Palma said he made a movie that he said is anti-troop,” Howell said. “It is not anti-war, it’s anti-troop. He said if George Bush can lie about Iraq why can’t I; these are quotes by Brian De Palma."

Howell said he has picketed outside theaters where the movie has been shown. The film opened on Nov. 16, but is only being shown in Cuban's Landmark Theatre chain. It is the nation's largest theater chain dedicated primarily to exhibiting and marketing independent films.

Howell said he had not seen the film. "You won’t see us in front of 'Rendition' or 'Lions for Lambs' protesting because those are policy movies,” Howell said. “We can discuss policy all day long, but you should not defame the troops. I will not give them a dime of my money to see it.”

The boycott group has a Web site that features an online petition, and Howell said there are plans to send the petition to Cuban. He also said there are plans to picket at Mavericks' road games. Howell called the movie “un-American” and “treasonous in a time of war,” and said that it gives “aid and comfort to the enemy” and that it will serve as a “propaganda and recruiting” film for al-Qaida and jihadists.

“This movie will get service members killed,” he said. “Any guy in the Muslim world who is on the fence who sees this movie, with the way they can edit this film, will turn them into a jihadist.”

De Palma, who also wrote the screenplay, said in interviews that the movie was very similar to his 1989 film “Casualties of War,” which was set in Vietnam. In other interviews De Palma said he wanted to bring the horrors of war back to the American people that have been hidden from the American public, such as barring video and still photos of the flag-draped coffins of fallen U.S. service members returning home from Iraq.

But Howell said if De Palma wants to do a film about atrocities, then he should "make a movie about the atrocities committed by al-Qaida.”

“Redacted” opens Friday at the Maple Art Theatre, 4135 W. Maple Road at Telegraph, Bloomfield Hills.

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