James Spione’s short documentary falls into the growing category of nonfiction films about maladjusted U.S. military veterans who returned from recent wars with bitterness and resentment. In this case, the subject is Ethan McCord, an Army specialist who was among the soldier shown on the classified video of the July 12, 2007, Baghdad air strike that was released by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks under the title “Collateral Murder.”
McCord was not responsible for the attack – indeed, he was one of the soldiers who arrived after the massacre, and he can be seen in the video taking an injured child to medical care. But the incident, along with other events during his tour of duty, left him angry and sour. Back home, McCord fell into a significant case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that resulted in alcohol abuse and a hostile relation with his family – and the news following the WikiLeaks presentation of the classified video only made matters worse for him.
McCord, if anything, is brutally honest about his feelings. He speaks at great depth about the controversial air strike – which was initially covered up by the Pentagon – and he pretty adds there was “nothing patriotic over what I was doing over there.” Outside of service, he found a calling as an activist against the war in Iraq.
Although Spione’s film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Short Subject, “Incident in New Baghdad” is little more than a cinematic vehicle for McCord to vent his frustrations at his unexpected role in a horrifying war incident. Ultimately, this is just a minor addition to the expansive canon of Iraq-related films.