Taken from Aspen Daily (Apr 15th, 2006)
Franti film revisited
Letter to the Editor
by Mick McQuilton, Aspen
I was at the Michael Franti film that prompted Judy Kava to write a letter.
I remember her comments during the question period, and some of the responses both from Franti and from some members of the audience. For those who missed it, Franti traveled to a couple of areas of the Middle East where sectarian or international conflict exists in order to speak with -- and play music for -- citizens and soldiers.
I don't disagree with Ms. Kava that the film was one-sided. It took the perspective of occupied peoples. Her complaint concerned the film's bias toward the Palestinian people and its implied criticism of Israel's government/military.
Look at the inverse, however, and it clearly was not anti-Israeli (the people) or pro-Palestine (the government). There is a difference there -- subtle perhaps, but worth discerning. I think the message was that no one wins without someone else paying the cost.
My younger brother is an infantry soldier presently serving his second tour in Iraq. It's the principal reason why I went to see Franti's film. There were moments when it challenged my beliefs, though for the most part it was affirming. Just as it does not portray the Israeli military occupation in a favorable light, neither does it glorify American forces' continued occupation of Iraq. It does, however, tell some of their stories.
There are many sides of conflict. I think the film was a universal plea for peace, against occupation. It was a condemnation of armed conflict and a show of solidarity with the people it affects. It portrayed the plight of those in the Middle East -- Iraqis and Palestinians as well as American and Israeli soldiers. It did not judge or disrespect any of them as individuals.
If Ms. Kava felt threatened by the film or thought it misinformed or propagandist, perhaps she took away from it a different message than I did.