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Post Cards From Falluja

In the superb documentary Occupation: Dreamland, directors Garrett Scott and Ian Olds travel to Falluja in the tense, ominous early months of 2004: before the charred and mutilated corpses of private contractors were hung from a bridge at the end of March, before the April and November sieges. For six weeks, the filmmakers bunk down with an Army regiment stationed at an abandoned Baathist resort adopted as a military base called “Dreamland” — which would also be an apt name for the cloud-cuckoo-ville where top military brass apparently make their strategic decisions. In Falluja, the Americans keep to a bizarrely bipolar schedule of listening tours by day and home raids by night, stoking the ire of the harassed and forcibly idle locals. We get to know the coalition soldiers — one used to be the bassist in a death-metal band,

To read Jessica Winter's story on the filmmakers behind Occupation: Dreamland, click here.

another worked in a shoe store next door to a recruiting center — and listen to them express, with often startling candor, their varying degrees of enthusiasm, cynicism and frustration toward their vaguely defined purpose in Iraq. Without resorting to the steroid-pumped aggro flash of Gunner Palace, Occupation: Dreamland reinforces the impression that the American rodeo in Iraq was always a murderously pointless self-security op, leaving one officer to wonder aloud, “So what are we protecting? I don’t know.”

OCCUPATION: DREAMLAND | Directed by GARRETT SCOTT and IAN OLDS | Produced by SCOTT, OLDS, SELINA LEWIS DAVIDSON and NANCY ROTH | Released by Rumur Releasing | At Laemmle Sunset 5