Where Is Iraq

A few months before the capture of Saddam Hussein, filmmaker Baz Shamoun tried to go back to Iraq to discover what had happened to his family under the Hussein regime. He got as far as Jordan, and there, spoke with other Iraqis about the state of their country. Where Is Iraq? is an interesting mix between Voices of Iraq, where filmmakers gave digital cameras to Iraqi citizens and asked them to film their lives, and Marooned in Iraq, where a group of Kurds go into Iraq to try to find somebody. I would have loved to see Shamoun do something about his own search for his family, as that would have been much more personal, but his film is pretty interesting in that it presents a cross-section of Iraqi thought. For this film, Shamoun talks with a group of Iraqi sitting outside what looks like a café.

Opinions are all over the place, but the general feeling he captures is that they are glad that Hussein is gone, and they want to run the country themselves. The men dislike how Hussein stole away their money and killed their relatives, although one man wanted Hussein back because everything ran on time under him. The most emotional monologue comes from a 78-year-old veteran who recounts the horrors that Hussein's government unleashed upon his family. If this could happen to somebody loyal to the government, what would the government do to its enemies? Frustration seems to be the universal feeling. All of these men want something better, and a variety of factors seem to prevent it from happening. The debate heats up when America comes up. Most are glad that America helped topple the Hussein regime, although a few point out that America helped put Hussein in power. There are accusations that US soldiers are inherently cowardly, or fire indiscriminately because they are high on drugs. Again, it's all a matter of perspective and timing. It's probably important to note that all of these films dealing with Iraq capture opinions as of a certain point in time. It would be interesting to hear what these same people think given events of the past year, with increasing violence from insurgents, Abu Ghraib, the elections, and the current attempts to form a government.

Gerf Rates It: Not Bad.
19 minutes, Arabic with English subtitles, Not Rated but would probably be a PG, or possibly PG-13 for thematic content.

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