Ken Loach takes on private contractors in Iraq film

Fri May 21, 2010 12:38pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - British director Ken Loach turns a critical eye on private security firms operating in Iraq in his new drama "Route Irish," in which trigger-happy mercenaries appear to act above the law. The movie, one of 19 in the main competition at the Cannes film festival, also features a reconstruction of "waterboarding," an interrogation technique used on terrorism suspects which the U.S. Attorney General has called "torture."

Loach, who won the coveted Palme d'Or in Cannes in 2006 with Irish drama "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," said it was not too late to expose truths about the war in Iraq, which he opposes, and embarrass the leaders who supported it.

"If we can't put them in the dock of the law courts we have to put them in the dock of public opinion, because they need to be brought to account," he told reporters on Friday.

Route Irish is set in Liverpool, England, where Fergus, played by Mark Womack, grieves for his best friend Frankie who was killed in mysterious circumstances while serving as a private security contractor in Iraq.

The title of the film refers to the name given by the U.S. military to the road leading to Baghdad airport, once considered one of the world's most dangerous, vulnerable to insurgent attacks and where the character Frankie is killed.

Fergus feels responsible for his death having convinced the former soldier to go private and earn more cash.

A mobile telephone handed to Fergus shows footage of an incident where contractors opened fire on a car killing the Iraqi family inside, and when Frankie threatens to go public, his colleagues, led by Nelson, begin to threaten him.

"MASSIVE GREED"   Continued...