After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Baghdad-born Mohamed Al-Daradji returned home in 2004 with the dream of making a film about his agonized homeland, now freed at last from the tyrant's grasp. Under increasingly difficult conditions, he succeeded in making a feature film, Ahlaam
. It was screened at many film festivals throughout the world, received many awards, and represented Iraq in both the Golden Globe and Academy Award® competitions in 2006. The extraordinary story of how that film was made is the subject of War, Love, God & Madness
(In Arabic the first three of those words are written with characters that closely resemble each other). But this riveting new documentary is quite different from the usual-and in the DVD age, obligatory-making-of feature, and indeed its story can be appreciated even by viewers who have not seen Ahlaam
. It provides a harrowing and unforgettable portrayal of the extraordinary ordeals Al-Daradji and his indomitable colleagues were forced to endure, including interrogation and torture. Struggling against time, persecution, imprisonment, injuries, and terrorist attacks, the cast and crew struggle on and, miraculously, manage to finish the film. In Godard's Pierrot le fou
, the American director Sam Fuller is famously quoted as saying, "Film is a battlefield." In the case of Ahlaam
, this unnerving documentary indelibly records, that wasn't simply a figure of speech.
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