Medina Wasl, USA 

The ultimate war game

Somewhere in the Mojave Desert sits the city of Medina Wasl. The population — a few hundred people at most — worships at the Shia mosque and prepares for the big social event, the wedding of the mayor. Medina Wasl is also beleaguered by ambushes, snipers and improvised explosive devices, as Iraqi insurgents attempt to throw the city into chaos. Fortunately, a U.S. Army battalion is there to keep the city safe — and the whole thing is a sham anyway. This "virtual Iraq" is a billion-dollar war game, a training ground built by the Army to prepare American soldiers for the real thing. Many of the "citizens" are actual Iraqi refugees who volunteer to role-play in three-week sessions. The soldiers know it's fake, but still, something between fact and fiction exists in Medina Wasl. Documentary filmmakers Tony Gerber and Jesse Moss spent a three-week shift out there capturing the strangeness, the fear and the reality of the unreality for their movie, Full Battle Rattle. Can Medina Wasl be saved? If it can't, does that mean Iraq is destined to fall? Full Battle Rattle screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Sunday (October 23, 24 and 26) at the Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487 or Tickets are $5 to $6.
Thu., Oct. 23; Fri., Oct. 24; Sun., Oct. 26, 2008

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