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WAR OF LIES (#HotDocs15 Review)

placeholderWAR OF LIES
Directed by Matthias Bittner

Weapons of mass destruction. For years, the public was fed those four words as ultimate justification for the US invasion of Iraq and takedown of Saddam Hussein. But how many are aware that it was essentially one man, an Iraqi seeking refugee status in Germany, behind the story that led to such drastic political action?


Meet Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, aka “Curveball”. A chemical engineer working in an Iraqi military industrial complex until 1999 when he fled to Germany, he had no problem passing information to his new country’s secret service in exchange for asylum.

Two years later, 9/11 happened and everything changed. Curveball’s file was transferred to the Americans and the information he provided ultimately led to the war on Iraq. And in WAR OF LIES, al-Janabi sits down for yet another interrogation, this time with filmmaker Matthias Bittner for the purpose of learning about the lone man behind one of the first major political events of this century.


Bittner’s interview of Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi is intriguing to watch because the man’s demeanour is unsettling, to say the least. Clearly he witnessed atrocities in his home country and had no doubt that the removal of Saddam Hussein from power would be the only answer. But his arrogance and whole “crack a few eggs to make an omelette” attitude make him come off as smarmy and untrustworthy.  The frequent smiles and chuckles may be a defence mechanism to cover up his feelings of anxiety or guilt over the information he’s providing – but they do nothing to convince the audience that his words were true or actions honourable. Good on Bittner for being able to actually endure the interview, let alone turn it into a eye-opening documentary.

3.5 sheep

WAR OF LIES will have its North American premiere at the HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Festival, as part of the Special Presentations program.

Screening Schedule …

Monday, April 27, 9:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Wednesday, April 29, 1:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Sunday, May 3, 9:30 PM, Bloor HotDocs

For more information and for tickets, please visit

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How many sheep would you give War of Lies?


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