Sunday, January 28, 2007

IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS - best doc of 2006

IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS is an outstanding documentary - probably the best I've seen in the past year. Produced, photographed, researched and directed by James Longley, it deserves to be seen and to be awarded the Oscar for Best Documentary in a couple of weeks time.

IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS is made up of three segments. The first segment focuses on a small boy living in Baghdad who is being viciously bullied by his guardian. The segment makes for extremely uncomfortable as we are forced to see a small boy reduced to tears by a jeering, snide adult. It's the most devestating cinema I have experienced in some time. It is worth pointing out that this segment is not overtly political. However, it is clear that the old Sunni men regret the fall of Saddam and believe that the USA was only interested in Iraq's oil wealth.

The second segment gives us a scary insight into the Shia militant uprising. But - scrupulously fair - Longley also shows some Shia Iraqis complaining about the arbitrary militia "justice" that is dispensed by Sadr's men. To them, the liberation has merely replaced one Sunni tyrant with another Shia tyrant. Finally, the third segment shows the Kurds. Even this community - which has had the most to gain from the US invasion and is - broadly speaking - pleased that it took place - has an ambivalent attitude towards the US troops still stationed in Iraq.

Unlike most documentaries, the film does not have a simple earnest liberal message. In fact, Longley resists any authorial comment, leaving the viewer to draw his own conclusions about the complicated social, political and religious issues facing ordinary Iraqi citizens. Again, unlike ordinary documentary films, this film is beautifully photographed and rewards a viewing on the big screen if you can possibly get to one.

IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS played Sundance 2006 and went on limited release in the US last November. It is currently on limited release in the UK.

1 comment:

  1. If you enjoyed this one you should also check out "
    The Blood of My Brother: A Story of Death in Iraq". Not quite as good but also amazingly poignant.