Emerging Discourses, Changing Perspectives: Iraq in Oscar Documentary Films





Religio-Political Discourses, Conflict, Peace, Documentary Film, VUCA


Documentary film has become an important tool to seek information. This study shows how documentaries are projecting skepticism and sarcasm of Iraqi people due to volatile, uncertain complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) conditions. The fims discussed in this study consists of Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary films from 2003 to 2011 with a total of 45 films. The year 2003 is selected for its demarcation of U.S.-led invasion of Iraq which started in March 2003 and toppled over the government of Saddam Hussein. The year 2011 denotes the end with the departure of US troops in 2011. Through the criterion sampling, four films are selected that depict Iraq and all the four got the nomination for Oscar that includes: Iraq in Fragments (2006-Nomination); My Country My Country (2006-N); No End in Sight (2007-N); Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (2007-N). To explore Iraqi people’s perspectives, further sampling is applied and two documentaries are selected depicting entanglement of religion and politics in Iraq from Iraqi people’s perspective.

Author Biography

Abida Ashraf, University of the Punjab

Institute of Communication Studies, Assistant Professor


Brasell, R. (2004). From Evidentiary Presentation to Artful Re-Presentation: Media Images, Civil Rights Documentaries, and the Audiovisual Writing of History. Journal of Film and Video, 56(1), 3-16.

Eijaz, A. (2012). Depiction of religions in Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary films (1997-2006), Unpublished PhD thesis, University of the Punjab Lahore, Pakistan.

Galtung, J. (2002) Peace journalism–A challenge. In Kempf, W. and H. Louostarinen (Eds.) Journalism and the new world order: Studying war and the media, Göteborg: Nordicom. pp. 259-272.

Galtung, J., & Ruge, M. H. (1965). The structure of foreign news: The presentation of the Congo, Cuba and Cyprus crises in four Norwegian newspapers. Journal of peace research, 2(1), 64-90.

Lynch, J. and A. McGoldrick (2005). Peace journalism. Stroud: Hawthorn Press.

Nichols, B. (1991) Representing reality: Issues and concepts in documentary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Pramaggiore, M. and T. Wallis (2005) Film: A critical introduction. Laurence King Publishing.

Rose, D. (2003). Analysis of moving images. In M. W. Bauer & G. Gaskell (Eds.). Qualitative researching with text, image and sound: A practical handbook (pp. 246-262). London: Sage Publications.

Sikand, N. (2015). Filmed Ethnography or Ethnographic Film? Voice and Positionality in Ethnographic, Documentary, and Feminist Film. Journal of Film and Video, 67(3-4), 42-56.

Spence, L., & Avcı, A. K. (2013). The talking witness documentary: remembrance and the politics of truth. Rethinking History, 17(3), 295-311.

Spence, L., & Cengiz, E. P. (2012). Pushing the boundaries of the historical documentary: Su Friedrich's 1984 The Ties That Bind. Rethinking History, 16(3), 377-392.

Van Dijk, T. A. (2001) Critical discourse analysis In D. Schiffrin, D. Tannen, H. E. Hamilton, (Eds.) The handbook of discourse analysis (pp. 352-371). Blackwell Publishers.




How to Cite

Ashraf, A. (2020). Emerging Discourses, Changing Perspectives: Iraq in Oscar Documentary Films. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 8(2), 195–216. https://doi.org/10.5195/cinej.2020.247