Wednesday, 9 April 2008

a Baghdad you don't ordinarily see...

If you're interested in metal music, or if you want to know about the Middle East we don't see on the news, or if you're just looking for a good way to spend 84 min, I highly recommend checking out the film Heavy Metal in Baghdad.

A Vice/VBS.com documentary, the film investigates the struggles of a - possibly the only - Iraqi heavy metal band as they try to live and to make music in a country that's coming apart around them. Starting with the discovery of Acrassicauda in 2003 after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the doc tracks the band members in 2005 and 2006 as the violence in Baghdad escalates and Iraqis flee the country for comparative safety (but not security).

Metal is at the film's core and clearly unites and drives the members of Acrassicauda and the small metal communities in Baghdad and Damascus. But Heavy Metal in Baghdad ends up being, by extension, about the life of many ordinary Iraqis caught in the middle between insurgents and military forces, displaced from their own country and unwanted anywhere else. And because the revelations about post-Saddam Iraqi life unfold as the film plays out - seemingly as eye-openers for the film-makers as much as for us, the viewing audience - its insight may be more powerful than any partisan statement or overtly humanitarian expose.

Heavy Metal in Baghdad has been doing the festival circuit since last fall, and more recently a university tour. Hopefully the rest of the world will be able to catch it in regular theatres and on DVD soon.

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