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Heavy Metal in Baghdad (2007)

R  |   |  Documentary, Music, War  |  23 May 2008 (USA)
7.8
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In the late summer of 2006, in the middle of the insurgency, filmmakers Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi traveled to Baghdad to meet and interview the only heavy metal band in Iraq, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Firas Al-Lateef ...
Himself
Suroosh Alvi ...
Himself
Marwan Reyad ...
Himself
Faisal Talal ...
Himself
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Storyline

In the late summer of 2006, in the middle of the insurgency, filmmakers Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi traveled to Baghdad to meet and interview the only heavy metal band in Iraq, Acrassicauda. "Heavy Metal in Baghdad" is the story of the band and its members, young Iraqis whose lives have been distorted and displaced by years of continual warfare in their homeland. The filmmakers have collected glimpses into the struggles of Acrassicauda as they try to stay together and stay alive. Their struggle is the untold story of the hopes and dreams of an entire generation of young Iraqis. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | Music | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

23 May 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Heavy Metal Bagdad  »

Filming Locations:

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Production Co:

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Technical Specs

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(HDCAM)
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Marwan Reyad: For six years, man, we've been like bounded to that store. I remember all that shit, dude. This is a quite impressing movie that you filmed down there. You know what? We feel sad. We feel terribly fucking sad. This is a fucking sad scenes. Tragedy scenes. Seeing the country that you grew up in and all the people that you know that don't live anymore. Right now dead. These are the things that you lay your back on. These are things that you turn off the TV whenever, or like change the channel ...
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Connections

Followed by Heavy Metal in Istanbul (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

The Final Countdown
Written by Joey Tempest
Performed by Acrassicauda
Courtesy of Screen Gems - EMI Music Inc.
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User Reviews

 
Eye Opening....
11 June 2010 | by (New Jersey, USA) – See all my reviews

Remember the famous Twisted Sister video where the Dad asks the kid "What do you wanna do with your life?" and the kid's answer is "I WANNA ROCK!"? The members of Acrassicauda just wanna rock too. The problem is that unlike most young bands, Acrassicauda (Latin for "Black Scorpion") happens to be the first (and so far only) heavy metal band from Iraq, a country which is obviously not known for its rock and roll scene. That's the set up for "Heavy Metal In Baghdad," a fascinating documentary that puts a human face on the misery currently facing the population of that war ravaged country. The members of Acrassicauda thought they had it bad before the American invasion. They couldn't wear their hair long for fear of persecution, their songs had to be pro-Saddam Hussein, and their music is accused of promoting Satanism. Just getting the band together in one place to play a concert was a massive undertaking. Unbelievably, the situation got even worse once the American "liberators" took over. When a pair of Canadian journalists who serve as our narrators arrive in Baghdad in 2006, the country is more or less the Wild West. They travel with an A-Team of bodyguards wherever they go and wear flak jackets at all times. It's not safe to be on the streets for more than a few minutes for fear of being kidnapped, shot by a sniper, or hit by a stray rocket. I found these on-the-ground segments particularly fascinating, as the team captures the desperate day-to-day life in Baghdad that you don't see much of on your sanitized nightly TV news.

When the film crew finally reconnects with Acrassicauda, the band hasn't played a concert in a year and in fact all of the members haven't even been in the same room together for nearly six months. Acrassicauda seem to be likable guys, they're just your average joes in Metallica and Slipknot shirts, prone to throwing the metal "devil horns" as much as possible and speaking surprisingly good English (peppered with the expected F-bombs; this is a heavy metal band, after all), bemoaning the fact that they can't just get together whenever they want to kick some ass like any other band around the world.

Eventually the scene shifts to Damascus, Syria, where the band members have emigrated to escape the war in their homeland. They may be out of the war zone, but they're still miserable. Packed like sardines in tiny apartments, scraping by with dead-end menial jobs and missing their families, one band member even admits that he misses the sounds of bombings and machine gun fire. The film's narrators arrange for the band to lay down some tracks for an EP in a primitive recording studio in Damascus, finally fulfilling their dream to have their tunes preserved on tape. When the band is playing their music, we finally see how much joy it brings to their lives. From there, Acrassicauda puts on their first concert outside of Iraq in the basement of a pool hall, saying that if it's not well attended, the band will break up. Happily, the small crowd of rockers eats up the band's music, inspiring them to continue onward.

From the description, you might say this sounds like "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" against a war backdrop, but it's way more than that. Even as the film ends, the band members are depressed and angry about their situation and the band's future remains in doubt. A crawl at the end of the film says that Acrassicauda were in danger of being deported from Syria and sent back to Iraq as their Visas had expired. (I understand that since this film was released, they have all emigrated to the U.S. and have picked up their musical dreams where they left off. I haven't heard the four song EP they recently released but I'm definitely interested in doing so.) "Heavy Metal In Baghdad" is absorbing, fascinating, and depressing all at the same time. I can not imagine going through the sort of things that Acrassicauda have experienced on a near daily basis, so they have my respect not only as musicians, but as people. The next time I read an interview with some spoiled rock star complaining about how tough his life is, I hope someone tells him to shut up and watch this movie.


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