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in Filmmaking
on Mar 25, 2009

We are still putting up our SXSW features, and the latest to go up on our SXSW page is Alicia Van Couvering’s interview with Kristian Fraga and Mike Scotti of the Iraq war doc Severe Clear. Fraga is the director and editor, and Scotti is both subject and cameraman as the film follows him and his fellow soldiers of the 1st Batallion, 4th Marines as the 2003 invasion of Baghdad begins. Writes Van Couvering:

We first meet Mike and his unit in a desert camp, where they drink too much, curse too much, make gay jokes and fart jokes, shoot guns at stuff and otherwise prepare for war. It’s unsettling to see these men acting like such silly meatheads because, like the happy couple at the beginning of a horror film, you know what’s coming for them. Fraga deliberately used horror film techniques to tell this story, but despite three years of careful editing, it never feels like anything but Scotti’s personal story. Danger, bloodshed and chaos escalate by the minute as they make the battalion makes their way towards the capital, but Mike almost never stops filming. The story is framed by Scotti’s letters home, personal diaries and notes for the book he’s planning to write when he gets home.

The Iraq War is probably the most-photographed and most-filmed conflict of all time. Soldiers have taken thousands of hours of personal video and millions of pictures; we’ve seen the results of some of them. Severe Clear doesn’t preach or explain, and it can be hard to watch, but you ignore it at your peril.

The film’s trailer is below.

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