Hot Docs 2018: Our Review of ‘My War’

Hot Docs 2018: Our Review of ‘My War’

Some documentarians know that there will be some people in the audience who will disagree with the documentaries they make. It is thus the audience’s turn to have an open mind. Julien Frechette’s My War is one of those. It’s a movie for us civilians who ‘don’t care’ about ISIS.

It mainly portrays very brave Canadians. His two subjects made their trips to fight ISIS. Or Daesh, as their enemies prefer to call them. The documentary has a lot of work to do in answering why it exists in the first place. It doesn’t get that job done, sadly enough.

My War also seems to prefer one of its subjects over another. Hanna, a media personality, went to these Daesh controlled areas because the West ‘bores’ her. During her stay in the Middle East she struggles without seeing any front line action. These segments could have been more interesting.

However, it is as if the movie uses Hanna’s segments to bookend the longer ones featuring the other subject. This other subject is Wali. He is a veteran who has multimedia experience. He wants to use the latter to expose what is happening in the Middle East to the world.

Hanna and Wali probably know more about the average Westerner about ethnic conflicts in that part of the world. Frechette is mindful about exposing that aspect of his subjects. There are, also, segments where they seem naive about that issue. This produces moments that are more cringe-worthy than should be.

There are enough battle scenes here. However, it doesn’t take a field expert to understand that contemporary warfare is more complex. It’s different from what these blood lusting subjects thought it would be. Frechette unfortunately pointed his camera in the direction of subjects who insist on the old fighting ways.

My War is playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox twice. The premiere is both April 29 at 6PM and the second screening May 1 at 12:30 PM. Last show is at the Scotiabank Theatre on May 3 at 3:30 PM.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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