News Story

The Sentinel: The Situation

Film peers across cultural divide in Iraq
By Joseph Cress, March 25, 2007
Last updated: Sunday, March 25, 2007 2:19 AM EDT

It begins with a lack of understanding at the most basic level.

An American patrol confronts two Iraqi teenagers crossing a bridge at night outside Samarra.

They want to know why … They want to know their intentions … But there is a cultural divide, a language barrier.

Frustration takes hold and the soldiers act, dropping the two boys into the river.

One drowns and the news spreads among the population. There is both sorrow and anger.

A journalist investigates, tracking down a lead to the funeral where women wail over a coffin and men scheme in the courtyard looking to broker favors from the local mayor.

This is the setup for “The Situation,” a fictional film about the occupation of Iraq, which made its central Pennsylvania debut Saturday before a capacity crowd in Carlisle Theater.

Co-written by director Phillip Haas and journalist Wendell Steavenson, who spent a year reporting from Iraq, the film illustrates the interactions between Iraqis and American soldiers.

Its message is despite mass media coverage, many people remain confused and lack understanding of the Read more

The Patriot-News: The Situation

The Patriot-News

Iraq war movie focuses on cultural differences
Sunday, March 25, 2007
For The Patriot-News
CARLISLE – Resolving conflicts by understanding other cultures was the theme of a movie making its Pennsylvania premiere at the Carlisle Theatre last night.

“The Situation,” directed by Philip Haas, shows the Iraq war in 2004 through the eyes of a fictional American journalist and the people around her — Iraqi and American civilians, militants and soldiers.

Just before the lights dimmed, Carlisle resident Leon Blosser, who teaches Arabic at Dickinson College, said he believes the situation in Iraq would have been different if the American government had concentrated on teaching Arabic to its Middle East operatives.

The opening scene begins with a language gap and ends with a death.

A panel discussion before the movie featured a man once responsible for training American military commanders in strategic thinking, retired Army Gen. Robert H. Scales Jr.

Scales, the former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, said the military needs a new training approach. His generation of soldiers was trained to strike targets, he said.

But today’s military leaders need the education and tools to bridge cultural gaps, he said, because Read more