Baghdad Exposed

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The first Iraqi-made movie in more than a decade (according to the AP) is in production. Director Odai Rasheed is making Gheir Saleh (Under Exposure) with no money and a cache of outdated stock he found in the culture ministry's storeroom.

The film focuses on the lives of three characters at the time of the US entry to Baghdad. To economize, reports the AP, Rasheed is having his actors address their thoughts to the camera, apparently because he doesn't have enough stock to risk shooting multiple takes of dialogue. Sounds like Jean-Luc Godard circa 1970, and in fact Rasheed promises that, "My film will be outside all commercial prerequisites."

Iraq never made many films. Among the reasons: The limited market; other Arabs have difficulty understanding Iraqi colloquial dialect. However, there's at least one Baathist-era curiosity that ought to be worth tracking down, the 1983 Clash of Loyalties, a 3-hour extravaganza about colonialism and independence that starred Oliver Reed.

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  1. The story is interesting, at least in its construction, in that it underscores the mixed bag that this war was for the people who wanted Saddam gone.

    Chickens were slaughtered over his chest and stomach to give his imaginary wound a look as close to reality as possible. “We have used six chickens so far,” Rasheed enthused.

    Ooooh…PETA film of the week.

  2. “the raw film he used to shoot a documentary about the lives of underclass Baghdadis before war broke out March 20. Reels containing that unfinished documentary were burnt by looters…through the lives of three friends in the days immediately after Saddam’s ouster: Hassan, a movie director; Moataz, a cello player dying of cancer; and Maysoun, a postgraduate archaeology student.”

    Somehow I think I’d find the documentary a bit more interesting than a tale about him and his upperclass mates. Plus, like any true auteur he has to use film instead of video.

    Someone could set up a media center in Iraq that would loan out cheap digital cams, cheap lights, and cheap mics. Then they could come back and edit it on cheap computers. It’d be open to anyone who didn’t advocate terrorism/genocide/etc. Public access cable TV stations manage to do things like this, and with grants from companies like [ugh] Apple or MS, it needn’t cost that much or be too complicated unless someone wanted it to be.

  3. “My film will be outside all commercial prerequisites.”

    I think you are mistaken. He made a movie last year, now playing, called “Bad Santa.”

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