Iraq in Fragments

Director: James Longley

Institute History


Even with plentiful news coverage of Iraq, we rarely have an opportunity to hear from ordinary citizens or consider their distinct, complex concerns. A stunning, electric collage of hypnotic sights, evocative sounds, and arresting voices, Iraq in Fragments listens to diverse points of view in three Iraqi enclaves.

In old Baghdad, buildings burn, U.S. tanks patrol, and an 11-year-old mechanic scurries amid the rubble to please his intimidating boss. His vulnerable narration betrays relentless fear about safety and heartbreaking efforts to support his family, while the men around him angrily indict the Americans. Then, guided by a young leader in Moqtada Sadr's Shiite revolutionary movement, we proceed south, where political arguments ricochet across cafés and meeting halls, and young Shiite men hit the streets to enforce religious laws and stage an anti-U.S. uprising. In the northern Kurdish countryside, where smoke from brick ovens billows ominously, yet gracefully, in the sky, a farmer, grateful to America for eradicating Saddam, ruminates on the future of his family and people. Meanwhile, his teenage son tirelessly tends sheep, intent on fulfilling his dream of becoming a doctor.

These indelible, intimate portraits, painted with strikingly beautiful vérité images and poetic visual juxtapositions by filmmaker James Longley, humanize characters and illuminate the textures and tensions of a country wrenched by occupation and pulled in disparate directions by religion and ethnicity.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details


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