Heavy Metal in Baghdad and Heavy Metal in Istanbul

Director: Suroosh Alvi and Eddy Moretti
Year Released: 2007
Rating: 3.0

Crude and shaky - but undeniably intimate - documentary about the 'only' heavy metal band in Iraq, Acrassicauda ('black scorpion') and the ridiculous conditions they had to endure just to play together as a band (security issues, electricity issues, "errant" missiles blowing up their practice space, thieves stealing their possessions, poverty forcing them to sell their equipment, and on and on) due to the U.S. Occupation. The patchwork construction and laid-back interviewing style may leave some irked, but you could argue it's a vital clear-headed peek at the lives of several regular citizens, the moderates, virtually ignored by the popular press, who just want their home back in shape to be able to do things 'regular' people take for granted: to grow their hair out, to jam, to wear black t-shirts, to head-bang. There's also a deep irony at work here: here are men from a country deemed 'evil' by the U.S. that are hopelessly and shamelessly smitten with the (largely) American metal music scene, wear the T-shirts with pride and sound (and act) like they listened to way too many Lars Ulrich interviews (they claim to not be politically motivated, but what they mean by that is they make an effort to not be overtly political, as every work of art is technically 'political'). The DVD features a supplemental feature, Heavy Metal in Istanbul, which features the band trying to get the U.N. to grant them political refugee status in Turkey (after having spent some time in Syria), with the only catch being that they can't legally make money in the country (and they have to live hours away from the capital). Rappers can't buy this kind of street cred.