Reviews and interviews

Severe Clear

Documentary Feature, Documentary Competition
D: Kristian Fraga

1st Lt. Mike Scotti, recently returned from Afghanistan, joined the 2003 Iraq invasion force as a gung ho Marine, believing wholeheartedly that he was defending his country, avenging the September 11 attacks, and seeking Saddam Hussein's confirmed weapons of mass destruction. This film, composed almost entirely of the video-camera recordings by Scotti and three other soldiers, documents the heady and dangerous invasion and race to Baghdad, spectacularly confirming Scotti's voiceover: "War gravitates toward uncertainty, chaos, and disorder." The videographers weren't "embedded" – they were cussing and goosing their comrades, running for cover, or targeting artillery strikes as they filmed. Fraga's editing provides a vividly intimate – "severe clear" – portrait of soldiers literally on the ground, amid a growing sense that their mission is not what it seemed. At Monday's screening, Scotti said he is neither "for or against the war" but a Marine who performed his duty: "Even as a civilian, you don't get the pleasure of an opinion."

Friday, March 20, 2pm, Austin Convention Center

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Severe Clear, SXSW 2009

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