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Sharon D. Allen,
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Iraq in Fragments illuminates post-war Iraq in three acts, building a picture of a country pulled in different directions by religion and ethnicity. Filmed in verité style with no scripted narration, the film explores the lives of ordinary Iraqis to illustrate and give background to larger trends in Iraqi society. Written by
Best doc of '06, and one of the best films, period
Well, I finally found the very best documentary from 2006. This exploration of Iraq is reminiscent of the beautiful ethnographic documentaries (and faux-documentaries) of pioneer Robert J. Flaherty. The images are awe-inspiring and completely indelible. The film is broken into three parts. In the first segment, we follow the life of an 11 year-old Sunni boy in Baghdad. The second depicts Shia Muslims in Southern Iraq, particularly the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr. And the third follows a Kurdish family in Northern Iraq. Unlike Flaherty's documentaries, Longley's film is entirely real. The man spent two years wandering Iraq by himself with a camera starting in April of 2003, less than a month after George W. Bush famously declared that major military operations were complete. He's a white man, and it's stunning that he was able to infiltrate these people and film them on such an intimate level. The first and third segments probably held their own danger, but the second segment is especially impressive. How in Hell was Langley able to accompany Shi'ites as they kidnapped alcohol-peddling shopkeepers? It's mind-boggling. This is a rare documentary that is both informative and incredibly cinematic. As a whole, I think Iraq in Fragments comes pretty close to being a masterpiece. There's a silhouetted sequence of some Kurdish kids burning a tractor tire that is one of the most gorgeous shots I've ever seen. Definitely one of the best films of 2006.
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