Iraq In Fragments
by James Longley

I watched at Free Zone Film Festval another amazing film:
Iraq In Fragments by James Longley

This is breathtaking portrait of lives of ordinary people in Iraq after aggression and one of the most noticeable consequence that can be seen is that indeed Iraq is fragmented.

In first part (fragment) we see painfully lonely 11 year old fatherless boy who works in garage whose owner ‘owns’ the boy as well. This man at first shows some kind of “love” in his own rough way and a boy is giving him a tribute how he is actually kind to him in one very moving way while we are looking how the owner is shouting at the boy and use him and hitting him with … something. We are listen conversations between adults how they think whole this war is because of the oil; how Americans ended Saddam’s regime and now they live under “100 Saddam”

In the second fragment, south with Shias majority we are seeing their pre election campaign and how they (Shias) are vigorously prosecute new Islamic revolution with horrifying arrests because of selling alcohol. One of the arrested said (screamingly in despair with bounded hands and with covered eyes) “My eyes were covered and hands bounded during Saddam and now, now again!!! Why!?!? Why?!?” It’s a rising of new “Saddamism” or more likely something much worse.

In third fragment, we see pious Kurdish man whose hope is that Kurds will finally get their country and independence. He knows he’s close to death (and decided to dedicate those days in praying in the mosque) but he is hoping that his children will breathe air in their country, Kurdistan. He knows that Kurds, Sunnis and Shias will never live in peace in the same land.

After the projection guests were Veljko Đurović (cameraman for Sky News, Reuters etc) and lady (I can’t remember her name at the moment, sorry) who came back in Belgrade recently after two years in Iraq working with some international organizations. Interesting thing is that both of them are saying how Iraqis are one of the most hospitable people in the world; Reporter said that he has worked on so many battle fields in last decade in every corner of the world but he never met people so kind in spite the fact the bombs are falling constantly. Lady (guest) has told us how women from her class have risked their lives to go and buy cake in other part of the town for her Christmass.

Also in the film you can barely see woman. It should be stressed that Iraq was one of the most liberated countries in Middle East. Few years ago women were free to go in University in mini skirt and actually life style was not so different comparing with Europe or USA. Now the situation is completely different. You cannot see that image anymore.
Of course people are in despair and they have enemy (Saddam is dead). And that despair have united them and (and this is probably worst consequence) has changed them.

People with millenniums old tradition, with customs with dignity, have been invaded by forces that have shown no interest in their customs, in their tradition, which have shown no respect in whom they are and where they came. They have been invaded by endless ignorance. And lack of respect is often worse than so many other things. To honorable people word is stronger weapon than a bullet.
Invaders often ask themselves “Why they hate us?” and the answer is “Because you don’t respect them”.

So of course they have changed under these circumstances, they become less hospitable and become sadder, more disappointed, angrier, more radical. Yes disappointment, sadness, anger is making fertile soil to fanaticism. And that is real threat. Country has been fractured irreparably. Boy from the beginning of the film said:
“Once it was so beautiful… now it’s not beautiful anymore …
I was dreaming when I grow up I will work; I’ll learn how to work and be independent. Then I started to work and keep dreaming how I’ll work when I grow up for my family and have one good life. I’m working, but I’m not dreaming anymore”

Those are words of 11 year old kid! How can you kill ability of dreaming to a kid? How can you do that and not be responsible? And be so ignorant?

That old Kurdish man said one story:
“Two men are wrestling and one spectator asks another:
– What do you think, who’ll win? On whose side is God?
And the other one replies:
– God is always on the winner’s side”

That is not God I believe in.
(today is 8th anniversary of NATO aggression on my country)