De Palma's Iraq war film stuns Venice festival

BRIAN De Palma, the director of Hollywood hits such as Mission: Impossible and Scarface, stunned the Venice Film Festival yesterday with a harrowing film about the Iraq war.

Redacted, billed as a "fictional story inspired by true events", follows United States soldiers in Iraq who rape a teenage girl and slaughter her family. It is based on an incident in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, in which soldiers raped a 14-year-old girl before setting her body alight and shooting dead her parents and five-year-old sister.

In one graphic scene shot in the style of an al-Qaeda internet video, a US soldier is beheaded. The film ends with a montage of real-life photographs of Iraqi war victims, including maimed and dead women and children.

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The film's title refers to the process of editing out material for legal or other reasons and De Palma claimed censorship was stopping the US public from seeing the reality of the war.

He said: "Unlike Vietnam, when we saw the destruction and sorrow of the people we were maiming and killing, we see none of that in this war. You can find it if you look for it, but it's not in the mainstream media."