Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stunning footage of looting on Iraq's archaeological sites

Micah Garen and Marie-Helene Carleton have posted the trailer for the long-awaited "Road to Nasiriyah", a documentary about the looting of Iraq's archaeological sites. It is based on footage shot in 2004 before Garen and his interpreter were kidnapped and held for ten days, a twist that inevitably shifts the dramatic focus of the film to some extent from the looting to the gripping personal story, a turn that is augmented by the film's attention to the equally gripping personal story of AbdulAmir Hamdani's struggle against the Iraqi mafia who control the looters ravaging Iraq's heritage. No other journalist had the temerity to do what Garen and Carleton did, and the footage they are finally releasing therefore offers a unique glimpse of the actualities of looting. It is not clear from the trailer whether the final cut will pull back from the on-the-ground view, invaluable as it is, to also include interviews with those whose policy choices left Iraq's sites vulnerable and Hamdani and others hamstrung, or with those collectors whose deep pockets and willingness to buy dodgy artifacts fuels the looting. Nonetheless, this film will be a must-see for anyone interested in understanding how and why many of Iraq's sites were destroyed. And it should put the quietus to those who have pooh-poohed reports of massive looting. 

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