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HEAVY METAL IN BAGHDAD (Arts Alliance America)

In the autobiographical film Persepolis, there’s a scene where creator Marjane Sartrapi works the black market for some Iron Maiden. To us of more genteel Western tastes, the scene is humorous because of what she has to go through to get a bootleg tape. What we don’t realize is the ultra-serious undertones of the sequence. Certain Muslim factions would have killed her for possessing that bit of Western decadence.

Heavy Metal In Baghdad
Heavy Metal In Baghdad

If you don’t believe, this new release should bring home the point. It tells the tale of an Iraqi metal band, Acrassiscauda. Formed before the fall of Saddam Hussein, the band actually fell on harder times after the U.S. “liberated” it from the former dictator’s rule. They became the target of numerous death threats, not only to themselves, but to their young families. If spin-offs from the likes of Al Queda and the Taliban weren’t enough to consider, there were also non-stop security checks, power outages, gun happy and American hating militias and constant, I repeat, constant harassment to conform to one group or another’s ideal Islamic standard. You soon learn all this pain and suffering also isn’t rooted in religious difference. The band is a mix of Suni and Shiite themselves. The cause is pure madness.

A gripping documentary by any standard, what drives the point home is one of the least challenging forms of rock’n roll can end up being so controversial in the Middle East. Search this one out to see just how truth can be so much more deadly than fiction (like the U.S. is bringing democratic ways to Iraq).

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