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Baghdad High - documentary - film review
by Karen Pecota

In collaboration with HBO, BBC and ARTE, directors Ivan O’Mahoney and Laura Winter bring the audience a story of four Iragi teenager friends studying for exams during their senior year in high school amidst the world’s most notorious war zone in Baghdad High. The boys filmed over 300 hours of footage sharing daily challenges they encountered during that important academic year. Not one tape was lost! All of their film footage was successfully smuggled out of Iraq.

Winter and O’Mahoney were drawn to the project because the story is told by children and not adults. The teenagers effectively reveal their compelling real-life struggle to cope with the tensions of daily warfare. The documentary follows their friendships and their mixed of ethnic backgrounds: Hayder, who yearns to be a singer-songwriter; Anmar, who thinks he is a stud with girlfriends and plays football like David Beckham; Ali, who dreams of being an architect; and his best friend Mohammed, who doesn’t yet know what he wants to be, but is content being the joker of the bunch. Their transparency communicates their hopes, dreams, frustrations and challenges. Their situation, surrounded by suicide bombings, mortar attacks, kidnappings and citywide curfews, can’t help but instill in them a longing to be free to live the life they so desire: to be a normal teenager.