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My Country, My Country

3.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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(Mar 20, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Working alone in Iraq over eight months, American filmmaker Laura Poitras follows Iraqi physician Dr. Riyadh--father of six and Sunni political candidate--for an unforgettable journey into the heart of war-ravaged Iraq in the months leading up to the January 2005 elections. An outspoken critic of the occupation, Dr. Riyadh is equally passionate about building democracy in Iraq. Yet all around him, he sees only chaos, as his waiting room fills each day with patients suffering the physical and mental effects of ever-increasing violence. Dramatically interwoven into his personal journey is the landscape of U.S. military occupation, Australian private security contractors, and the U.N. officials who orchestrated the elections. Luminously photographed and emotionally complex, Oscar-nominated MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY captures the downward spiral of one man caught in the tragic contradictions of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and its project to spread democracy in the Middle East.


SPECIAL FEATURES
- 16:9 anamorphic transfer, enhanced for widescreen televisions
- "Abu Ghraib Inspection": 15 minutes of additional footage shot at the notorious Baghdad prison
- Original theatrical trailer
- Additional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
- Production notes and updates

Amazon.com

Produced for PBS series POV, this Oscar-nominated documentary takes an up-close-and-personal look at the occupation of Iraq. While War Tapes explores the situation from the American standpoint, My Country, My Country presents the other side of the equation. And while fellow nominee James Longley (Iraq in Fragments) combines Sunni, Shi'a, and Kurdish perspectives, Laura Poitras (Flag Wars) sets her sights on one Sunni, Baghdad-based Dr. Riyadh. She also takes detours to check in with the US military, UN personnel, and Australian security contractors supervising the 2005 elections, either directly or indirectly (as one notes about the occupation, "It's not all bad, you can have some fun"). Dr. Riyadh, a physician and city council member, runs for a seat on the National Assembly in order to help rebuild his country. Poitras began shooting in 2004 and spent eight months with her protagonist, his wife, and their children. She captures a time of doubt and fear, as shells are constantly exploding in the background. Just as the Iraqi people are wary of the outsiders trying to restore democracy, there is only so much insiders, like Dr. Riyadh, can do. Elegantly shot by the director and set to a mournful score by Kadhum Al Sahir, My Country, My Country may be pessimistic about the prospects for present-day Iraq, but Poitras gives one decent man a voice. For that it remains an invaluable document of its time and place. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

  • "Abu Ghraib Inspection": 15 minutes of additional footage shot at the notorious Baghdad prison
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Production notes and updates

Product Details

  • Actors: Dr. Riyadh, Aaron Castle
  • Directors: Laura Poitras
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Arabic, English, Kurdish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Films
  • DVD Release Date: March 20, 2007
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000LP5D2E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,321 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "My Country, My Country" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ronald Scheer on April 22, 2007
Given more recent events in Iraq, this wonderful documentary is already somewhat dated, made as it was during the months leading up to the first democratic elections in that country, but it marks an important moment in history as well and deserves a viewing for that reason alone. The central figure, a medical doctor in a Baghdad neighborhood, Dr. Ryadh is a member of a Sunni party, running for election to the country's new parliament. Tenacious in his commitment to his community, he is pulled in many directions by the needs of his patients, his prospective constituents, his friends and family. His story is played out against a background of continuing gunfire and explosions and an unending stream of complaints from those who have lost faith in the American presence and hope for the future. In one sequence a colleague's son is kidnapped for ransom by insurgents, and we watch as the father despairs of ever seeing him alive again.

Meanwhile, cameras visit other parts of the country, including Kurdistan, where anti-Sunni and pro-American opinion prevail. We also follow the months of behind-the-scenes preparation for elections and the precautions taken by contracted security firms, with commentary by international election observers. Branded by some as a "show" for the benefit of the White House and boycotted by Dr. Ryadh's own Sunni party, the election draws long lines of voters anyway, and we watch with appropriate amazement the risks voters take to participate in a process that is taken so lightly in the West. Assembled in a way more akin than most documentaries to the ideals of cinema verite, the film has no narration and leaves it to the audience to interpret much of what it is viewing. A fine and important work.
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"My Country, My Country" is an opportunity to see Iraq through the life of an Iraqi doctor and his family. The camera perspective is personal and I felt as though I was right there with Dr. Riyadh. The airborne scenes and the country vistas complimented the intimate nature of the coverage of the people involved.

The consequences of the American occupation of Iraq are complex. The politics are complex. I didn't feel imposed upon by some moral message, but rather felt I had a chance to see the depth and interrelationship of viewpoints that allowed me to think for myself. This movie did not clear a lot up for me, but rather gave me a sense of familiarity with the people - a chance to see them as real people and not abstractions. I felt empowered by a far more unprocessed opportunity to gather information for thought.

I wholeheartedly recommend seeing "My Country, My Country" to people whose understanding of "Iraq" comes from nightly news reports or newspaper articles. I believe this documentary is an outstanding way to learn more about the circumstances of recent Iraqi history.
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Laura Poitras is a very brave lady that has put together a very intimate and brilliant documentary of post invasion Iraq. This doco follows the daily activities of a local Dr. Riyadh and his family leading upto the local elections. The personal struggle of this man together with his frustrations and his hopes and dreams for his family and country are very beautifully depicted and most people would be able to empathize with. The total chaos that reigns in the background is very hard to not miss. Personally I found the portrayal of the whole situation on the ground in Iraq to be very disturbing. I can only imagine what it is like for the average Iraqi, allied troops, UN mediators, contractors and diplomats etc who have to deal with this horror on a day to day basis. Even today many months after the actual events of this doco I fear the situation is no better and if anything maybe somewhat worse. I thoroughly recommend this to any viewers interested in the current events of the region. It is a fair portrayal of the country and history without any political bias. Five stars from me!
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I won't lie. I purchased this movie because Laura Poitras claims that it was responsible for putting her on a severe watch list with the U.S. government. Yet, the movie isn't that subversive. It follows the life of a doctor who stresses himself out by running for political office, taking care of his large family, and dealing with the danger of U.S. occupation during the early 2000s. What I found most compelling about the story was the inside view of Baghdad during this time period. I actually didn't find the politics of the movie to be overly strong, but it is certainly worth watching to show a different side of U.S. occupation in Iraq.

Lastly, the music is fantastic. It was created by an eminent Arabic musician. It was almost worth watching just to hear the beautiful score.
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It is sad, especially if you have lived in Iraq years ago, in the "good old days". What we see in this documentary is what's left over from old Iraq. I used to compare Baghdad (before 1990) with Chicago or any other major city here in the US. Iraqis, especially the Baghdadis are not less than any other Americans, high quality life and way of thinking. They enjoyed rights and benefits we dream to enjoy here in the US; women enjoyed most of these rights and they were one of the happiest nations, I witnessed. What I saw in this film is what we and our foreign strategies created in this beautiful country. We uprooted this country from all its beauty and historical authenticity and genuineness by the name of democracy. Yes, I recommend this movie, but please look beyond the spoken words.
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