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
This is a documentary about three Iraqis. The first is a Sunni boy who works and goes to school in Baghdad. The second is a Shiite religious figure in a city to the south. The third is a Kurdish boy (and his family) in the north.
I've seen a lot of documentaries and cinema verite, but this one is one of the most successful. It's as if the camera is invisible, and the photographer got access to whatever he wants. Any documentarian is going to be jealous of this one. I could give many examples. One of the more chilling is the Shiite vigilante raid on the town's market, in which they beat up and kidnap fellow Shiites for the sin of selling alcohol. How on earth does an American get access to that? He actually climbs right into the trucks with the masked militants and films the whole thing from beginning to end.
And the result is spectacular. There's this Iraqi fellow sitting on the floor, surrounded by men with guns, his hands tied and a bag over his head, and he makes the comment "What's changed since Saddam? I've done nothing and I'm still sitting on the floor with a bag over my head!"
When we move up north to visit the Kurds, we see a brick factory where men are making mud bricks, just as they have been doing for many thousands of years. This is clearly not Nebraska, and anyone who invades a country like this, even with the most altruistic of motives, clearly has no idea what Iraq is about. Whatever the American foreign policy mistakes, military and political mistakes, the bottom line is we lost totally the small window of opportunity we had to turn Iraq into a democracy.
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