I place a lot of power in labels. Generally, they give you a very accurate understanding of what something is. This being said, can a man branded a villain possess the qualities of a hero? The truth is a name can never really tell you who someone is anymore than it can tell you what they’re capable of. War of Lies unmasks the man and story behind the label: liar.
War of Lies is a documentary that follows the perspective of an Iraqi refugee whose misinformation aided and perhaps even ignited the invasion of Iraq. Rafed Aljanabi, while seeking asylum, claimed to work as a chemical engineer at a plant that manufactured mobile biological weapon laboratories as part of an Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction program. Today, we know this was shown to be false but the devastation this fabrication caused was very real.
The film is narrated in German, Arabic and English. This blend of cultures gives you a sense of the global devastation that the Iraq War produced. A close up of the interviewers finger pressing the play of a cassette begins a two-minute clip of his condemnation by international media. A tear rolls down Rafed Aljanabi’s somber face and all the negative words you’ve just heard become blurred, you then become unable to pinpoint this man as good or bad. Conflicted, the messages played on news stations are clear: Rafed Aljanabi was a liar and his lie was used as justification for the Iraq War.
This is, of course, how the media had presented this to the public. Rafed Aljanabi presents a very different version of the truth. Aljanabi portrays himself as a victim of circumstance. Having access to confidential Iraqi documents he used those documents as a basis for his story that there was, in fact, cause for concern of biological warfare. Throughout the film you can easily see how distressed Rafed Aljanabi is by his damnation in the media and the use of his story by the Bush administration as justification for the Iraq War. Seeing, quite possibly, the only silver lining of the war he is proud that his fabrications aided in the end of Saddam Hussein’s terror.
Whether this is a topic you’ve religiously followed or have been only informed through conversations in passing this film gives an eye opening perspective on the events leading up to the Iraq War. War of Lies does a wonderful and credible job at humanizing the media-portrayed monster that is Rafed Aljanabi. War of Lies is an informative piece that creates a rift between the public and the media’s propaganda and gives a viewpoint that is crucial for societal progress.
War of Lies. will be playing at various theatres:
TIFF Bell Lightbox on April 27 @ 9:15 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox on April 29 @ 1:00 p.m.
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on May 3 @ 9:30 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased here!