CONSIDERING the sheer scale and ferocity of resistance to the Iraq occupation, there is relatively little mainstream information on those who take up arms against the US and British forces. What information we do have is largely derived from the US and British governments or Western experts, with US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld arguing in September 2003 that it was only "dead-enders, foreign terrorists and criminal gangs" that opposed the occupation.
Meeting Resistance successfully challenges and debunks this crude propaganda. Starting in August 2003, freelance journalists Steve Connors and Molly Bingham spent 10 months working undercover in the Baghdad suburb of Adhamiya conducting face-to-face interviews with 11 members of the resistance. With no voiceover and the camera blurring the insurgents’ faces for reasons of safety, the interviews explore the methods, motivations and goals of those actively involved in the burgeoning resistance.
In a fortunate piece of timing, Connors and Bingham are able to record the interviewees’ thoughts on high-profile events as they unfold, including the capture of Saddam Hussein and the publication of the Abu Ghraib torture photographs. In the middle of conducting a statistical study of the resistance, a professor of political science at Baghdad University sums up the film’s main findings. "The vast majority of resistance is a nationalist, popular resistance by Iraqis who have no relationship to the former regime." An interviewee called The Iman asks: "Suppose Iraq invaded America and an Iraqi soldier was on a tank passing though an American street, waving his gun at the people, threatening them, raiding and trashing houses. Would you accept that?"
Some may question whether the small number of insurgents interviewed are truly representative of the wider resistance or whether the conclusions made are still relevant today. However, the film’s general thesis is supported by the recent US Department of Defence figures, which note that 73 per cent of attacks between May 2003 and May 2008 targeted "coalition" forces, compared with 15 per cent against Iraqi security forces and 12 per cent against civilians.
Powerful, illuminating and incisive, Meeting Resistance is a landmark documentary that deepens our understanding of the Iraqi resistance and the occupation it is fighting. For that reason it deserves to not only be watched by informed anti-occupation activists but by as many people as possible, especially those whose feelings about the occupation are still undecided.