GUNNER PALACE reveals the complex realities of the situation in Iraq not seen on the nightly news. Told first-hand by our troops, 'Gunner Palace' presents a thought provoking portrait of a dangerous and chaotic war that is personal, highly emotional, sometimes disturbing, surprisingly amusing ... and thoroughly fascinating.
Filmmaker Michael Tucker, who lived with 2/3 Field Artillery, a.k.a. "The Gunners" for two months, captures the lives and humanity of these soldiers whose barracks are the bombed-out pleasure palace of Uday Hussein (nicknamed Gunner Palace), situated in the heart of the most volatile section of Baghdad. With total access to all operations and activities, Tucker's insider footage provides a rare look at the day-to-day lives of these soldiers on the ground -- whether swimming in Uday's pool and playing golf on his putting green or executing raids on suspected terrorists, enduring roadside bombs, mortar attacks, RPGs and snipers.
For y'all this is just a show...
I arrived in Baghdad for the first time in May 2003--just after the declared end of “Major Combat”--to produce a film about the security business in Baghdad. During production, I witnessed the slow rise of what US soldiers jokingly defined as “Minor Combat”: random firefights, snipers, roadside bombs and RPG attacks.
By the end of summer, dozens of Americans were dead, the enemy had yet to be identified, and the focus of the occupation began to shift from reconstruction to offensive operations and force protection. For the people living in the middle of it, the war was anything but over, but at home, the war and its human costs were increasingly absent from the front pages.
Meeting American soldiers over the summer, many expressed frustration that folks at home, accustomed to quick televised victories, had simply lost interest in the war and had changed the channel to the more entertaining reality of Survivor and American Idol. The War had become an event, something to be watched from a distance without consequence.
I walked into “Gunner Palace” in September 2003 with a simple desire to tell the soldiers’ story - to capture what we didn’t see on the news. To do so, I left my personal opinions and my preconceptions about the war at the gate and tried to get as close to the subject as possible. I looked at the subject not as news, but as living history; an experience, not an event.
A year later, I wonder how the Iraq Experience will be defined in twenty years: will the voices of those who were there shape the collective narrative, or will we see the experience through the lens of Hollywood?
In the words of a soldier, "For y'all this is just a show, but we live in this movie."