So how does a music lover-turned-curator wind up producing the award-winning Iraq documentary No End in Sight?
“It was totally by accident,” said Audrey Marrs, who will be screening the film at the University next Monday.
A few years ago, Marrs could describe herself as a typical 20-something. She spent a good portion of her 20s “playing in an indie rock band,” but when she reached age 30, she realized something.
“[I was] sort of like, ‘Wow, that was great, but we haven’t developed a career,’” she said.
So Marrs attended grad school and studied curatorial practice. She began work as an assistant to Charles Ferguson, as a freelance curator, who wrote, produced and directed No End in Sight. Suddenly, Marrs, who had studied film as an undergraduate, was acting as a liaison between Ferguson and the cast and crew.
“Within 24 hours I lost all interest in contemporary art,” she said. “I like the way that film and what we were covering at the time was so much more immediate.”
No End in Sight debuted Jan. 22 at the Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim. It tells the story of the insurgency that arose in Iraq in mid-2003, when President George W. Bush declared the United States’ involvement a success. Unlike most exposés of this genre, however, No End in Sight tells the story using straightforward facts and doesn’t aim to sell the audience with added rhetoric.
“The best thing that it does is offer a really, truly objective analysis,” Marrs said. “No one has challenged that thus far. [It’s about] how we got to where we are right now, exactly how the insurgency was created, who made the decisions [and] what was said.”
The film’s main “stars” tell the story; it features interviews with those directly connected to the Iraq conflict, ranging from New York Times journalist George Packer to Lt. Seth Moulton, an officer who served in Iraq. There’s even an interview with former Iraq Analyst Marc Garlasco, who tells the audience right from the get-go that there was no connection between Al-Qaeda and Iraq, despite the government’s best efforts to find one.
“Through the process, we were constantly amazed at who agreed to be interviewed,” Marrs said.
Marrs calls those who were willing to go on the record the film’s true heroes.
“There really are some amazing people who spoke up when it was risky for them to do so,” she said.
Marrs, who has a very liberal background, found herself putting aside her personal politics for the sake of making an objective documentary, which she said “is a way of accessing a much larger audience.”
No End in Sight gets its point across with juxtapositions. In one segment, the film combines footage of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisting that the insurgency in Iraq is far from chaotic with images of museums, libraries and other places in Baghdad, which are in utter shambles.
“We never talked about feelings,” Marrs said. “We only talked about what happened. That’s why when people say, ‘this film was devastating,’ I’m glad to hear it; it’s not like we tried to manipulate the audience with emotion.”
Marrs, who will screen and discuss the film next Monday for a class in documentary film, as well as the general public, admitted that she usually doesn’t “jump at these opportunities.”
“In this situation, I really wanted to because it was with college kids,” she said. “I feel that’s who would be really fun to share this with because I’m really interested in what their impressions of the film will be.”
No End in Sight will be shown in the BLC Theater on Monday, Dec. 3, at 6:45 p.m. The event is sponsored by CampusProgress.org, the English Department and the Department of Communication and Journalism.