New on DVD this week:
HOMELAND: IRAQ YEAR ZERO
Visions du Réel 2015
New York, Rio, Lussas Doc, Hamburg, Yamagata Doc, Doclisboa, CPH:DOX, Jihlava, Mar del Plata, Cinema Vérite, Göteborg, True/False, Vilnius, BAFICI, Taiwan Doc, Dokufest Kosovo, Vienna
Life in Iraq, before and after the 2003 American-led invasion.
Split into two distinct sections – “Before the Fall” and “After the Battle” – Fahdel’s epically-lengthed yet intimately-scaled film provides viewers with a look at the activities of several Iraqis, many of them his own family members, in the lead up to and in the aftermath of the initial 2003 attack. Taking a loose, observational approach, the film feels more like a home movie at times, and serves as a survey rather than creating in-depth portraiture. This actually suits it well, particularly in the first part, which captures individuals who don’t have a full sense of what’s to come but think they have seen it all before. Digging wells to deal with expected resource shortages, and taping windows to prevent glass shattering, they seem practical rather than concerned, and otherwise try to go on with their everyday lives, seemingly comfortable enough despite the reminders that they’re living in a repressive regime. The tone changes in the project’s second half, with an Iraq overrun with foreigners, frustrations beginning to mount over disruptions in daily life, and, of course, reckoning with lives lost – including, as revealed in the film’s conclusion, one of its most engaging young subjects. It’s a deeply humanistic, and often difficult to watch, time capsule of a nation forced to contend with the tragedy of war.