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Salaam Dunk (2011)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Drama, Sport
In the West, we are often bombarded with dramatic and horrifying images of a violent and war-torn Iraq. This makes it easy to forget that people there do "regular" things... like play ... See full summary »

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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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In the West, we are often bombarded with dramatic and horrifying images of a violent and war-torn Iraq. This makes it easy to forget that people there do "regular" things... like play basketball. Salaam Dunk follows the American University of Iraq women's basketball team as they discover what it means to be students, athletes and friends. This is a story of triumph in the face of chaos and a testament to the perseverance of a handful of young Iraqi women. It shows us how sports can help build bridges of shared values, and potentially lead us toward a future of understanding within Iraq as well as abroad. Above all, Salaam Dunk is a film about basketball, friendship and the pain of losing those we love. From the joy of the team's first win to the pain of losing their coach forever, the film gives us an intimate glimpse into an Iraq we don't see on the news. Written by Seedwell

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Set in Northern Iraq, Salaam Dunk is a documentary about basketball, friendship, and the pain of losing those we love.


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A documentary about women, basketball, and Iraq
24 March 2013 | by See all my reviews

Salaam Dunk (2011) directed by David Fine, is a fascinating film about a college basketball program in Northern Iraq. A young U.S. professor teaches at an American University in the Kurdish area of Iraq. He begins a basketball program, which has enormous obstacles before it. Women's sports are often forbidden, or at least discouraged, within Iraqi culture. The young women are unaccustomed to any serious physical activity, let alone a rough sport like basketball. This school is open to students from all parts of Iraq, so there's an inherent tension between Arab and Kurdish cultures. (The students are permitted to speak only English. You can agree or disagree about whether this is appropriate, but it's the only common language between students of the two cultures, and, of course, it's the only language spoken by many of their instructors.)

Still, despite these barriers, a women's basketball program exists within the college. We follow the progress of the third season of the team's trials and triumphs.

The film is very moving. Almost any documentary about a competition will be interesting. But, given the limited options these women have faced, and will face, Salaam Dunk is all the more touching. Also, of course, every mention of the destruction of Baghdad is painful to those of us who think the war against Iraq was a huge and terrible disgrace.

Still, these women are young, they are resilient, and they are determined athletes who have formed themselves into a true team. The benefits of athletic participation, especially with a good and caring coach, are fully displayed in this movie.

We saw Salaam Dunk on the large screen at the Little Theatre as part of the Rochester Women's History Film Series 2013. It will work very well on DVD.


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