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Homeland - Iraq Year Zero Part I & II, Documentary
by Mary Nyiri

Directed by: Abbas Fahdel, Iraq Abbas

Fahdel began in February, 2002, to film his extended family living in Baghdad  under the threat of war with the United States. In the first part, “Before the Fall,”  he starts just like a home movie, filming their rather ordinary days of  watching TV (English language cartoons), shopping, singing, and playing games  when the power cuts plunge them into darkness. There are school days, weddings,  religious events and charitable acts. Along the way, Fahdel’s  twelve-year-old-nephew Haidar assumes the role of guide. He is smart, very  engaging and draws you into their lives making something as mundane as drilling  a well, interesting. The well is for when war comes, and the tap water stops  flowing, so they will have clean water. The bread they are baking and drying is  for when the war comes and the stores will have no food. The diapers are for  when war comes and they need a homemade mask to breathe through in case of chemical  attacks. College students stop studying for exams because when the war comes  there will be no exams. Throughout daily activities propaganda films of Saddam  Hussein depicting wonderful things he has done for his people play in the  background on the TV.

The  second part, “After the Battle,”picks up three weeks after the 2003 “shock and  awe” campaign led by President George W. Bush. The normal family life  punctuated by domestic preparations in case of war has changed dramatically.  Now there are American troops everywhere and armored vehicles in the streets.  Fahdel drives around the city with relatives and films the ruins, stopping at  the Baghdad radio offices which also housed the Baghdad Cinema Studios.  Thousands of reels have been destroyed, perhaps including evidence of Hussein’s  crimes. Much of the city is reduced to rubble. Fahdel filmed his relatives over  the course of seventeen months, and condensed his grass roots perspective to  nearly six hours of film. It’s a homeland movie that is well worth watching.