Director-producer-cinematographer Laura Poitras earned both an Academy Award nomination and a Film Independent's Spirit Award nomination for her gripping documentary film, My Country, My Country. Poitras' documentary follows Dr Riyadh, an Iraqi medical doctor and outspoken critic of America's occupation of his country whose equally as passionate about the need to establish democracy in Iraq.
Did you expect your film to be embraced the way it has been by the Academy and the Film Independent’s Spirit Awards?
“No. When you make a film in the war zone, your purpose is to make the best film possible and to get out alive. And hopefully to tell a story that people will relate to and that your peers respond to it is fantastic.”
Why was this your story to tell?
“I’m an American and I think that America has a responsibility. If we can do something now in these times, we have to do whatever we can. I’m a documentary filmmaker and I think future generations are going to ask us what happened to America post-9/11. I think documentary filmmakers have a responsibility to get the story out there.”
Will the Spirit Award and Oscar nominations help introduce your film to a wider audience?
“Yeah, more people are going to see it and [Oscar] night they’re going to see two films about Iraq that are nominated which is fantastic. It’s so awesome. James [Longley, director of Iraq in Fragments] was so generous and helpful to me. I think the fact that we’re both nominated raises the profile for both of our films in a way that makes it about the war and the importance of understanding the war from the perspective of Iraqis.”
How do you feel about the current state of documentary filmmaking?
“The new technologies are great because you can make images that are affordable but are also beautiful. James…both of our films, I think we’re both trained in a very artistic sense. We’ve made films that are very cinematic and that wouldn’t have been possible to do in war zones with heavy equipment. We worked alone – both of us are solo crews.”