Ian Olds and Garrett Scott’s portrait of US soldiers stationed in Fallujah debuted at Rotterdam in 2005. It went on to screen at SXSW, Full Frame, Palm Springs, Vienna, New Zealand, Atlanta, and Portland Doc, among others. It also won the Truer Than Fiction Award at the Independent Spirits. Scott sadly passed away just days before the Spirit Awards. The Garrett Scott Documentary Development Grant was established at Full Frame after his death to help emerging filmmakers receive mentorship as they work on their debut nonfiction features.
Embedded within the US Army’s 82nd Airborne during the Winter of 2004, Olds and Scott record the daily grind faced by the young soldiers as tensions continue to mount in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Though set up in a once-luxurious elite resort locally nicknamed “Dreamland,” the squad’s vocalized frustrations and thankless missions reveal it to be more of a nightmare. Tasked with the seemingly contradictory jobs of both maintaining security and trying to improve US/Iraqi relations – in essence, scaring the locals with aggressive raids by night, then trying to gladhand the understandably suspicious residents by day – the soldiers are surprisingly frank about their views of the quagmire the war has quickly become. While the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the experiences of various soldiers, have been amply documented over the past decade plus, the film retains an understated power and poignancy as it draws the audience in to empathize with the troops on the ground, even if neither the viewer, nor the soldiers themselves, necessarily understand the ultimate point of the war they’re waging.