Columbia University School of the Arts kicked off its collaboration with the Columbia University Middle East Research Center in Amman, Jordan in June 2010, with a series of screenings of American films about the Iraq War curated by School of the Arts Professor and Director of Lincoln Center Film Society Richard Peña. The five-night film series was free and open to the public, and featured panel discussions with local and regional filmmakers and scholars.
From Richard Peña: "It seems that with each new war America fights, the time between actual events and their representation on screen grows shorter and shorter. Especially now, with the advent of digital technology, filmmakers have responded to the events of the Iraq War with shocking speed; indeed, an active genre of Iraq War films began literally within weeks of that conflict's outbreak."
This film series included recent examples of American films that depict various aspects of the Iraq War, in both fiction and documentary; they ranged from the intense, observational chronicle of a Baghdad-based bomb squad in "The Hurt Locker," to the catalog of interviews with members of the Iraqi resistance in "Meeting Resistance." We attempted to examine in detail the various approaches each filmmaker has taken, and the consequences of their formal, filmmaking strategies on the meaning generated by each film. Each session began with a short presentation by Richard Peña, followed by the screening of that evening's film. After the screening, Peña led an open discussion of the film with invited critics and scholars from Jordan or the region, as well as with the audience.
Columbia University Middle East Research Center