As in Land Without Bread and The Bridge, Meeting Resistance raises all sorts of ethical questions about its making. Though photojournalists Steve Connors and Molly Bingham are exercising their journalistic privilege by sitting down with resistance forces actively and violently opposed to the U.S. military presence in Iraq, are the filmmakers also complicit with terror? More troubling, perhaps, is the question of the documentary’s authenticity. In a Q&A included in the film’s press notes, one of the directors reveals how they would test their subjects’ disclosures about plotting to attack coalition forces by seeing if what they were told ultimately came to pass, and yet there was still a sense that insurgents were lying for the camera. Troublesome stuff, but Meeting Resistance remains an interesting companion piece to No End in Sight, trying as it does to make sense of violence as a natural response to oppression.
Because Connors and Bingham needed to preserve the anonymity of their subjects, the film transpires largely as a blur of faces and feet, cigarettes dangling from fingers, cups of hot tea, and at least one too many sinister shots of the moon; the effect is not exactly poetic, though the haziness of visual information jibes with the feeling that some of Connor and Bingham’s subjects may have been less than truthful. They are a teacher, a warrior, a traveler, an imam, a wife, a Syrian, a fugitive, a local, a Republican guard, a lieutenant, and a professor—all of whom express how the American occupation has dehumanized the people of Iraq. Allah and “god’s law” is invoked, as is our differing attitudes toward women when one subject brings up Abu Ghraib as unredacted pictures of Lynndie England posing with naked Iraqi prisoners pass by on the screen, but it is not our cultural, ethnic, and religious differences that fuel the rage of the Iraqi people so much as America’s political gall. More than one person states that the only end to this violence will be our immediate withdrawal from the region, and for the small percentage of people in this country who can’t fathom such logic, one man asks Americans to entertain the nightmare of Iraqi tanks invading our city streets, taking away our rights and indiscriminately killing our innocent.