The director has blasted Hollywood for glorifying the sacrifices which American soldiers have made in Iraq war films, while ignoring civilian casualties. Loach, whose latest film Route Irish is competing here, said at this afternoon’s press conference that over 1 million Iraqis have died in the war and another 4 million have been exiled. “I find it disturbing that movies about the war are always about the American military,” he said.
Route Irish follows a British ex-soldier investigating the death of one of his friends in Iraq. The friend was working as a private security consultant in Baghdad. Route Irish is the name of the road that connects the airport to the Green Zone.
One key point in the film is a water-boarding sequence. Screenwriter Paul Laverty called for U.S. politicians who sanctioned water-boarding — including Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Dick Cheney — to be put on trial for breaking the Geneva Convention. “Obama has a legal obligation to investigate,” said Laverty. “Future leaders must not be allowed to undermine international law.”
Loach called the Iraq war “a monstrous crime against the Iraqi people fought for massive corporate greed”. The filmmaker said that outsourcing Iraqi security has proved incredibly costly: David Lesar, CEO of Haliburton – which services the American military — earns $12 million a year, while charging each US soldier $100 to wash one laundry bag. “We’ve had privatization of health-care, schools and the railways, so why not privatization of violence?” Loach shrugged.
The Palme d’Or director was pessimistic about democracy in Iraq ever being taking hold. The US will always want to be involved, he said. Laverty predicted many more cases of soldiers developing post-traumatic stress disorder, which, he said, takes between 14-17 years to manifest. One in 10 of the UK prison population are already ex-soldiers. This war will damage families for years after Bush and Blair have made millions from their memoirs, he said.
Loach was realistic as to whether Route Irish will change anything: “In the end, it’s a film, not a political movement.”