Tag Archives: iraq documentary

Sky News – Mike Scotti talks SEVERE CLEAR (“This is War” in the UK)

13 Oct

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Soldiers’ story told from the front line

10 Nov

NorthJerseyLogoRight before U.S. Marine First Lt. Mike Scotti left for Iraq in March 2003 as part of the first wave of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he bought a video camera.

“I bought it right before I left San Diego,” says Scotti, a Colts Neck resident. “I think it was a Canon. I told one of the other guys to get the same kind of camera, so we could share a charger in case mine broke.”

Over the next three weeks, as Scotti and 1,500 other leathernecks from the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines fought their way toward Baghdad, Scotti and three buddies, also armed with cameras, were filming incredible things: artillery strikes, explosions, casualties.

That footage, edited down to a 90-minute feature called “Severe Clear” by filmmaker Kristian Fraga of Leonia and producer Marc Perez of Fort Lee, has been screened at the St. Louis, San Diego, Palm Beach and South by Southwest film festivals.

It recently got a “special mention for cinematic excellence” at the Rome International Film Festival, and it gets its New Jersey premiere at 8 p.m. Wednesday — Veterans Day — at Teaneck’s Cedar Lane Cinemas.

On that day, Scotti will also be getting the annual Lewis J. Selznick Award from the Fort Lee Film Commission.

“We thought this was an important story to tell,” says Fraga, credited as the writer, director and editor of the film, since it was he who shaped the hours of images into a coherent narrative.

Scotti’s footage came to the attention of Fraga and Perez through a New York University student who was familiar with it and was then working as an intern for Sirk Productions, the New York film production company they founded.

“This story really hasn’t been told yet,” Fraga says. “The movie does not argue about the politics of the situation, it’s not about bashing the president [Bush] — and it’s not for the president. We just wanted to allow the viewer into what these guys experienced.”

While Hollywood has produced fictional war films by the truckload and a few old-school documentary filmmakers risked their lives to film from the front, it’s only in the new age of cheap, lightweight cameras that soldiers could film their own stories.

And what stories.

“I hope audiences feel what Marines on the battlefield feel,” Scotti says. “All those emotions running through you. The first one is fear. The next is fighting for the brotherhood — the Marine on the left and right of you. You’re fighting for your country. You’re also missing your loved ones at home and battling the elements. All these things are swirling through your mind simultaneously while you’re literally fighting for your life. It’s a unique feeling.”

And just how, you might ask, was Scotti able to shoot video footage while he was simultaneously fighting on the front lines? Actually, he says, he saw a lot of the war through his viewfinder, which effectively — and with the blessing of his higher-ups — functioned as one of his unit’s binoculars.

“I had the camera around my neck the whole time,” he says. “I was calling in artillery and mortars and sometimes airstrikes. … That allowed me to stay focused on the enemy.”

E-mail: beckerman@northjersey.com

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SEVERE CLEAR in competition at the Lone Star Film Festival

3 Nov

LSFS_logoSEVERE CLEAR will be playing in competition at the 2009 Lone Star International Film Festival Saturday, November 14th @ 3:30PM at the AMC Palace 2 in Fort Worth, Texas.  Representing the most dynamic talent in international cinema, the fall festival is quickly becoming a marquee cultural event in Fort Worth. LSIFF 2009 features more than 100 screenings from all over the world including feature length narratives, documentaries, animated and short films as well as educational panels, red carpet entrances, celebrity guests, and nightly parties featuring celebrated musical acts.  LSIFF has presented its most prestigious honor, the LSIFF Life Achievement Award, to Sidney Lumet, Martin Sheen, Bill Paxton, and Gregory Peck.

Buy Tickets Now

Festival Website

SEVERE CLEAR Veterans Day Screening in New Jersey

2 Nov

severeclearSEVERE CLEAR will have a special Veterans Day screening as part of the Jersey Filmmakers of Tomorrow Festival on November 11th at 8PM at the Cedar Lane Cinemas in Teaneck, New Jersey.  This event is a fundraiser for the Fort Lee Film Commission / Jersey Filmmakers of Tomorrow. Tickets are available at the box office of the Cedar Lane Cinema the night of the event and are $10 each. Please call 201-592-3663 for further information.  U.S. Marine First Lieutenant Mike Scotti, Kristian Fraga (Director), Marc Perez (Producer) and John Sikes (Executive Producer) will all be in attendance for an introduction and Q&A.

Visit the Fort Lee Film Commission Website

SEVERE CLEAR at the Rome International Film Festival

12 Oct

romesmalllogoThe Rome International Film Festival has set the slate for its fourth edition, which will run October 15-23, 2009 and feature an impressive variety of films, retrospectives, encounters, exhibitions, concerts and the attendance of great national and international stars.  Sirk’s SEVERE CLEAR will be making its international premiere at the festival at 8PM on Friday, October 16th.  The film will be featured in the EXTRA Section in competition for Best Documentary.

For tickets and additional screening times visit the festival Website.

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