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Iraq in Fragments

James Longley

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Iraq in Fragments
Directed by: James Longley
(Mongrel Media)
The title of the documentary Iraq in Fragments describes both the film's form and its content. The movie—pieced together from hundreds of hours of footage that director James Longley shot in Iraq following the 2003 US invasion—unfolds in three separate acts. The first tells the story of Mohammed, an 11-year-old Sunni Muslim working as an auto mechanic in Baghdad; the second shows a group of Shiite Muslims determined to expel US forces and to turn Iraq into an Islamic state; the final segment shows a group of Kurds in northern Iraq tending sheep, making bricks and hoping for political autonomy. Longley subtly demonstrates Iraq's systemic fragmentation—he shows us three distinct groups, with three distinct goals, trying valiantly to inhabit the same politically tumultuous area. "The future of Iraq will be in three pieces," one Kurd predicts. The documentary's a challenging one to watch—Longley lets his stories unfold without much explanation. Viewers must constantly work to understand the film's political underpinnings and greater themes. But it's worth the extra effort. Longley's painstakingly edited, often beautiful footage of brick ovens, colourful flags and self-flagellating Shiites shows us an Iraq we rarely get to see.
Lindsay McCarney

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