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Land of Confusion 

A Western PA filmmaker and reservist presents his take on serving in Iraq.

In March 2004, National Reservist Jeremy Zerechak was mobilized to Iraq, and naturally the Penn State film student packed his camera. This document of his unit’s year-long deployment was shot on the fly, but there’s some great stuff amid the film’s hang-loose feel. Zerechak has a keen eye for capturing the droll absurdity of the mid-winter training the unit endured in New Jersey, and you can sense his director’s delight when he learns the unit’s plum assignment: As part of the Iraq Survey Group searching for WMD, they’ll travel all over the country and interact regularly with Iraqis, whose opinions and experiences Zerechak works to capture. The story flags somewhat toward the end, though it’s hardly Zerechak’s fault that his unit didn’t find any WMD, and his crew were lucky to have missed the worst of the growing insurgency. Land is a clear-eyed snapshot of a year that began in hopeful confusion and ended in bitterness, and with no more clarity. Some of Zerechak’s fellow reservists carp about being misrepresented by the mainstream media, but films such as this give soldiers their own voice. Zerechak will present the film, to be followed by a Q&A. In English, and some Arabic, with subtitles. 8 p.m. Wed., June 11, only. Harris (AH) [capsule review]

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