Baghdad's Only Cinema Yanks American Sniper

Despite sellout crowds, some audiences fume over portrayal of Iraqis
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2015 6:52 AM CST
Baghdad's Only Cinema Yanks American Sniper
Bradley Cooper portrays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in a scene from "American Sniper."   (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures)

Baghdad's only cinema has stopped showing American Sniper. The movie was bringing in money, says the theater's owner—many screenings were in fact sold out, GlobalPost notes—but its portrayal of Iraqis was met with anger, including from the government, the Washington Post reports. "The film makes out that all Iraqis are terrorists—men, women, and children," says a security adviser at the theater who previously worked with US troops as an Iraqi government official. "Actually, there are some people who loved the Americans and wanted them to stay to help rebuild our country. The movie didn’t show any of them.” A top culture ministry official told the cinema to get rid of the movie or be fined and perhaps closed altogether.

Another viewer, who watched a pirated version of the movie because he didn't want to contribute money toward it, had a similar reaction. "It portrays Americans as strong and noble, and Iraqis as ignorant and violent," he says. It was also factually wrong in several places, viewers tell the Washington Post. For instance, it suggests Sadr City was host to al-Qaeda, but al-Qaeda is a Sunni group. Sadr City actually saw fighting between Shiites and US troops. Other viewers, however, tell GlobalPost some enjoyed the movie. "When the sniper was hesitating to shoot (a child holding a weapon), everyone was yelling ‘Just shoot him!'" says one. Notes another: "I love watching war movies because especially now they give me the strength to face ISIS." (More Baghdad stories.)

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