Thanks to a steaming pile of liberal-minded good will, Muthana Mohmed, a 25-year-old aspiring filmmaker was brought from Baghdad to the Czech Republic to intern on the set of an American movie production. Muthana received the invitation after having been spotted in an MTV-produced documentary about youth in Iraq following the U.S. bombings and invasion; the makings for an inspiring true tale of determination, hope, and cross-cultural healing were all in place. Yet as charted in Nina Davenport’s provocative, utterly compelling documentary Operation Filmmaker, Muthana’s journey after leaving his homeland for the first time in his life was undone by factors reflective of an unbridgeable cultural divide.
That more often than not Muthana’s failures are chalked up, by the film’s other principal figures, to flaws in his own character rather than the realities of contemporary geopolitics shows a fascinatingly muddied landscape of good intentions and woeful misunderstandings. At any given moment, Operation Filmmaker feels both refreshingly linear and enthrallingly multilayered: the subject, like the film, is difficult, charismatic, maddening, repellent, and sympathetic all at once. Click here to read the rest of Michael Koresky’s review of Operation Filmmaker.