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Taken from San Francisco Bay Guardian (Feb 02, 2005)

Sonic Reducer

Straight outta Fairfield? - Plowshares or ... guitars?

by Kimberly Chun

Michael FrantiTriple-threat Spearhead and Hunters Point homeboy Michael Franti was tapped to perform and to screen his documentary of his travels in Iraq, I Know I'm Not Alone, at the Slamdance Film Festival recently. Tired of "hearing generals and politicians speaking on the political and economic cost of war without speaking of the human cost of war," Franti embarked on a trip to Iraq last summer, accompanied by a few friends and equipped with an acoustic guitar and a video camera. There he attempted to share his music and learn about the everyday people - the families, doctors, musicians, and soldiers - in the war zone and in occupied Palestinian territories and other parts of the Middle East. "Having a guitar with me wherever I went really opened doors," he says from Park City, Utah. "We'd be in a neighborhood in Baghdad, and it was not really safe - everyone carries a gun, and there's a lot of tension and hostility, especially toward outsiders and Americans - but when you have a guitar and sing songs, they realize you came there to see them, and they were astonished, and they really opened up on camera," he says. "It's a war for the hearts and minds of Iraqi people, and it won't be won with an Apache helicopter." After Slamdance, he hopes to get a theatrical release of the doc and plans to complete an album, titled Love Kamikaze, of all the love songs he has written in the past decade that have gotten shoved to the side during these trying times.


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