Iraq in Fragments
Released in 2006, Iraq in Fragments is a three-part documentary series that examines the war-torn country during the U.S. occupation that followed the military actions removing Saddam Hussein from power. Three compelling subjects were chosen from each faction of the country's population - Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds.
We move amongst a Kurdish farming family that is happy to have the American occupation because of the newfound freedom it allots them, a young boy without a father who works under an authoritative Baghdad garage owner, and Sadr followers in Shiite cities using brutish methods of enforcing Islamic law.
Over two years were spent in post-war Iraq by American filmmaker James Longley in the compiling of his opus, which would go on to receive overwhelming critical acclaim. It took the house down at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, winning Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing in the documentary competition, and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2007 Academy Awards.
Part one follows an eleven-year-old named Mohammed, who was in the custody of his grandmother and had foregone anymore schooling to work as a shop apprentice so he could support his family. As an auto mechanic in the Sheik Omar district of Baghdad, the boy is surrounded by the turmoil the city's residents were forced to endure at the time.
The second installment focuses on Sheik Aws, a cleric in an organization led by Muqtada al-Sadr that was founded on strong anti-occupation and anti-Israel positions. What comes from this is a surprisingly deep look at the organization's political conferences, gatherings, marches, religious ceremonies, and a number of political speeches and interviews with militia members.
In the final episode, Longley heads north into Kurdish-controlled regions and aligns himself with local farmers in the town of Koretan. The bulk of the story here centers around the friendship of two boys and their fathers living and working on neighboring farms. In sizing up the relationships between them, the distance in generational mindsets, and how the youth of Iraq has an entirely different perspective than the hardened elders that have experienced decades of war and economic strife, is realized.