‘Shooting vs. Shooting’ screening comes under fire
By Helena Williams
A documentary on journalist casualties during the Iraq war came under fire last night as members of the audience questioned the director’s stance on the US military.
Greek journalist Nikos Megrelis’ 2011 film, ‘Shooting vs. Shooting’, centres around the killing of Western journalists by American soldiers in Iraq and suggests that US forces often deliberately targeted the press.
It investigates the death of two cameramen, Jose Couso and Taras Protsyuk during the attack on the Hotel Palestine on 8 April 2003, the targeting of Al Jazeera which led to the death of correspondent Tareq Ayyub, the killing of ITN journalist Terry Lloyd and the execution of Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni by Al Quaeda.
But Megrelis’ controversial stance touched a nerve as some members of the audience found the film – which has recently won a number of awards – “anti-American”. When asked by a member of the audience in a Q&A session following the screening whether he thought the documentary was biased, he said:
“It is not my conclusion – it is fact. Facts drive us to make these conclusions.
“I don’t want to say they [the US military] committed crimes. I’m not judging them. The courts should judge them, but they were not judged.
“We have to change the culture of impunity – there is a lack of investigation. This doesn’t only concern journalists,” he added.
The documentary centres around interviews with colleagues and family members of the victims, along with Aidan White, former General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
In his interview, White said:
“What goes on in war is deeply unpleasant. People violate other people’s rights. People act in very cruel and inhumane ways.
“The last thing that military leaders want is to have independent observers of those sorts of violations.”
But some audience members found that Megrelis had failed to create a balanced film.
“The film was not made for TV – it was made [as a] theatrical [documentary],” Megrelis said, adding that he had chosen dramatic music to accompany his graphic archive footage and interviews for this purpose.
But the aim of the documentary, he said, was to highlight the dangerous conditions journalists faced – and still face – while trying to cover conflict zones, and the impunity that often accompanies journalist deaths.
“There should be a strategy so that journalists will be protected in a conflict zone. The important thing is they stay alive so that they can tell the truth,” he said.
Iraq remains one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists. The International News Safety Institute (INSI) has recorded that 275 journalists have died in Iraq from 2003 to the present day.