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Rated NR · 78 minutes · 2005

Were it not for the tepid, overrated Gunner Palace, which likewise turned the cameras on soldiers stationed in Iraq, perhaps Occupation: Dreamland would have received the major distribution deal it deserves; instead, it's sneaking into theaters on a threadbare promo budget, as befitting, perhaps, filmmakers Garrett Scott and Ian Olds' DIY doc, in which Army soldiers from the left and right meet in the middle of hell (Fallujah, actually, though same dif). Scott and Olds went to Iraq all by their lonesome and got embedded with the 82nd Airborne, stationed in Fallujah just before the city fell under the control of the insurgents, who hanged three contractors in effigy. In their doc, soldiers argue politics and the motivations of the president, and offer their own feelings about whether they're occupiers or liberators; after all, says one soldier, they, too, would hate it if a foreign soldier kicked down their doors night after night. Their honesty is at times shocking, so rare is the opportunity to listen to the battlefield disagreements of men sent off to war; just as startling is their ability to maintain a brave face as they wrestle to keep the peace in a town about to explode. Scott and Olds' is an essential movie, and one of the year's very best.
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Director: Ian Olds and Garrett Scott
Producer: Garrett Scott

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