Changing the Future – Through the Eyes of French Filmmakers, An Iraq Veteran, and Iraqi Americans

by Weam Namou

Iraq veteran Alejandro Villatoro was trained to view everyone in Iraq as a potential threat, with a weapon pointed at them. After a while, he began to ask himself, “The Iraqi people, were they ever our enemy?”

When the documentary My Beloved Enemy was released last week, I was anxious to watch the stories of Iraqi Americans, especially that of my mom, Shamamta. French filmmakers Claire Jeantet and Fabrice Catérini did a great job portraying the real lives of this immigrant population. But what they also did was weave within these stories the testimony of a young Iraqi veteran whose observation and honesty is truly touching.

“Coming back from the war I was confused,” said Villatoro. “I wasn’t sure if what I did was right for my country or the Iraqi people.”

Villatoro ended up joining Veterans Against War, which helped him heal and put him in peace with himself.

“I’m still proud of where I came from, and I still sometimes wear my uniform,” he said. “But I have taken a proactive role to educate the community about the consequences of war.”

Villatoro can’t forget the past, but he has learned to forgive himself in order to move forward. This is how he, and the people who made and participated in this film, can help change the future. (click here to watch My Beloved Enemy)