Iraq in Fragments
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An opus in three parts, Iraq In Fragments offers a series of intimate, passionately-felt portraits: A fatherless 11-year-old is apprenticed to the domineering owner of a Baghdad garage; Sadr followers in two Shiite cities rally for regional elections while enforcing Islamic law at the point of a gun; a family of Kurdish farmers welcomes the US presence, which has allowed them a measure of freedom previously denied. American director James Longley spent more than two years filming in Iraq to create this stunningly photographed, poetically rendered documentary of the war-torn country as seen through the eyes of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
Winner of Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Editing awards in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival documentary competition, the film was also awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, was named Best Documentary at the Chicago International Film Festival, and was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2007 Academy Awards.
...a sumptuous, oblique masterpiece that defies expectations in every frame. --Time Out
Demands to be seen. . . mesmerizes with its insight and, rarer still, it's beauty. --L.A. Times
If Longley's astonishing feat of poetic agitation has a precedent in the entire history of documentary, I'm not aware of it. --The Village Voice
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Special Features on disc 2:
'Sari's Mother': An Oscar Nominated Documentary Short
'Iraq Before the War'
Short Films by students from Baghdad's Independent Film and Television College
BE AWARE BEFORE YOU BUY THIS. Check with the seller first. Most of the dvds that the sellers are shipping out is the 1-disc version.
This 2-disc dvd set has been discontinued. The picture on the cover art shows "the sky with black smoke".
The 1-disc dvd set is pictured with "a boy standing in his village looking at the camera with a building up in flames with black smoke going up in the sky". The 1-disc set doesn't include the special features that are on the second disc of the 2-disc set.
Most of the dvds that the sellers are shipping out is the 1-disc version. They listed their dvds under the wrong listing.
Presenting Iraqis in a very human and unbiased way, Iraq in Fragments starts out with the intense portrait of a young Sunni boy named Mohammed who has been "adopted" by a garage owner who mistreats, verbally abuses, and mocks the poor child. His life is examined in detail as he goes from work to school and back again. Listening to the older Sunni men discuss the American occupation around the back door of the garage is akin to listening to American men discuss the war on a back porch next to a barbeque pit. Their opinions may simply be their opinions but they are given ample time to discuss them and the audience is given ample opportunity to digest them.
Part two is devoted to the examination of Shia Sadr followers in two cities as they prepare for elections. An extremely intimate portrayal of Shia "death squads", as they have been called in the American news, shows the Iraqi police as they arrest men for allegedly selling alcohol in a town market. How Longley managed to get the footage he has is anybody's guess. Risking life and limb for the proper shots, Longley is able to present an Iraq few may have ever seen, though several non-fiction books have mentioned the circumstances portrayed.
The final chapter focuses on the Kurdish farmers of Iraq, who welcome the American forces and celebrate the replacement of Saddam. The focus of this chapter is on a young Kurdish boy who dreams of being a doctor some day. This section of the film, entitled Kurdish Spring, is the most moving and ultimately upbeat portion of the film, and marks a good choice for the final piece of the fragmented Iraqi portrait.
Throughout the film, Longley opts for intimate stories of individuals rather than a broad portrayal of all of Iraq, and he succeeds on all accounts. This may leave some viewers slightly confused, however, as each section is not properly introduced as Sunni, Shia, or Kurdish. Iraq in Fragments is a film dedicated to the educated viewer, and those who have done their research on Iraq will surely appreciate the individually honest portraits that Longely has painted here. For well studied filmgoers, Iraq in Fragments offers the kind of inside view of a wartorn country that we have been waiting for. The story is not bogged down or enmeshed in a narrator's diaglogue, designed to sway the viewer's opinion in any direction; the footage is simply displayed as is. Longley spent upwards of two years in Iraq gathering this footage, and it was well worth the while. For a true portrait of each of the three sections of Iraq, Iraq in Fragments can't be topped.