Éléonore Weber’s documentary, air-strike footage of pilots on night missions, could work well in a gallery
This hypnotic meditation on modern warfare from Éléonore Weber is an experimental cine-essay that feels closer to a gallery installation than a documentary. Watching it is a bit of a test of concentration: 75 minutes of helicopter airstrike footage from American and French missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Clip after clip of pilots following what’s on the ground hundreds of metres below. Who is that in their crosshairs: a Taliban fighter holding a Kalashnikov or a farmer with a rake? Farmers know that they get mistaken for fighters, so run and hide their tools when they hear helicopters. Which of course makes them look suspicious.
In the cockpit, we hear American voices: “Request permission to engage.” “We got a guy with an RPG.” This is the notorious video WikiLeaks dubbed Collateral Murder, a US airstrike filmed from an Apache helicopter in 2007. The rocket-propelled grenade launcher turned out to be a camera tripod belonging to a Reuters photographer, who was one of a dozen civilians killed in the attack. It’s impossible to watch and not think of computer games. “Kill! Kill! Kill” we hear in another video – you can almost feel the itch to shoot everything that moves.