Film review: 'Iraq' tells fascinating stories

Published: Friday, April 6 2007 12:22 a.m. MDT

In "Iraq in Fragments," Iraqis young and old get a chance to tell how the war has affected them.

James Longley, Typecast Films

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IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS — *** 1/2 — Documentary feature about occupied Iraq; with English subtitles (Arabic dialects); not rated, probable PG-13 (violence, profanity, vulgarity, ethnic slurs).

There's no shortage of fascinating stories that have come out of the Iraq war, and the documentary "Iraq in Fragments" has several interesting examples.

The film examines the U.S. occupation of Iraq entirely from the perspective of the Iraqi people, rather than U.S. Army or other soldiers. Because of that, the Oscar-nominated film (which lost out to "An Inconvenient Truth") is bound to be controversial and divisive.

As expected, "Iraq in Fragments" is critical of the U.S. war effort. But it is enlightening to see things from a completely different perspective.

As teased by the title, the film is divided into three "fragments" or sections. The first examines life in Baghdad and looks at several Sunni Muslims, none of whom is particularly pleased about the U.S. presence in their country.

And neither are members of the radical Shia movement, which is examined in the film's second portion.

In fact, it's only the Kurdish minority (the focus of the third "fragment") that seems very optimistic about Iraq's future.

Producer/director James Longley shot the movie between 2003 and 2005 and had surprising access to subjects who were more than willing to share their opinions. You may not agree with what the Iraqi interviewees have to say, but there's no denying that their stories deserve to be told.

Also, the movie boasts some very powerful imagery. This is certainly one of the better-shot documentaries in recent memory. (Longley is also credited as the cinematographer, sound man and editor for the film.)

"Iraq in Fragments" is not rated but would probably receive a PG-13 for strong violent imagery (assorted warfare and mayhem, as well as scenes of corporal and capital punishment), and scattered profanity, vulgar slang and slurs based on ethnicity. Running time: 94 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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