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Dreams of Sparrows (2004)

Director: Hayder Mousa Daffar
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Go Kart
Genre: Documentary, Foreign, Political & Social Issues, Middle East, Military
Running Time: 80 min.
Languages: English, Arabic
Subtitles: English

The Dreams of Sparrows follows Iraqi director Hayder Mousa Daffar and his team of contributing filmmakers as they share their vision of life in Baghdad under the US occupation. After the capture of Saddam, Daffar's search for the truth takes him through all walks of life in Iraq, and finally into the arts and culture of Baghdad, drawing the viewer into powerful encounters with Iraqi painters, writers and filmmakers. As the film continues the interviews veer towards the politics of occupation and resistance, concluding with the battle over Falluja and the devastating death of one of the crew members. In somber self interviews made following the production, the filmmakers reveal the dramatic changes in their beliefs caused not only by the situation in Iraq, but also by the process of documenting it.

GreenCine Member Reviews

Iraq, as seen by Iraqis by talltale September 12, 2005 - 6:06 AM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
I have little to add to ZenBones' fine review of this one-of-a-kind documentary, except to say that if a 20-point rating scale existed, I'd give it all 20 simply for being the best thing available on Iraq that I've yet seen. Unlike the despicably dishonest "Voices of Iraq," released just prior to America's last Presidential election, THE DREAMS OF SPARROWS gives us a wide range of real and conflicting Iraqi voices (sometimes the same voice conflicts with itself!) while showing the destruction--brought about by the U.S. occupation--that is going on in that country.

"Gunnar Palace" is fine for a circumscribed look at our soldiers in Iraq, but this movie allows Americans to see and hear Iraqis in all their sad, hopeful, questioning fervor. Perhaps one reason why this film succeeds so well is that it was made by artists who, together, bring their unique sensibility to the project. What I REALLY cannot understand or abide is why the documentary was never released in theatres (even "Voices of Iraq" got that much) or shown repeatedly on PBS or cable TV. What is wrong with America--and America's media? Do we really possess so little interest in what we doing to the world and to ourselves? I despair.

Fire And Ice In Iraq by ZenBones May 26, 2005 - 5:17 PM PDT
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
This documentary covers the current (2003-2004) situation in Iraq from the Iraqi point of view. We see a few people who think that Saddam was a great guy and the Americans, terrorists, and a few people who loathed Saddam and adore the Americans. Those are views that are all-too-similar to this country with our inflexible partisan biases, but this film refreshingly breaks from that convention often to show us that for most people, the feelings are far more mixed, and often painfully contradictory. One woman hates the American occupation as much as she hated Saddam, yet she has a couple of pictures of George Bush on her shelf. She loves him because he liberated Iraq, but hates what our occupation is doing to her country. We see horrific pictures of the mass graves from Saddam's regime, then we see images of the people of Fallujah digging rows and rows of graves in their cemetery for those who were killed in that battle. Some of the headstones simply read things like "a big man in a blue robe with a chain of keys", because his body and face are too disfigured for anyone to recognize. We see children who have known only sanctions and war, now joyfully drawing pictures of happy people on the streets. Then we see children living in squalor in bombed out houses and displacement camps. We see life going on as usual for many people, as it does in many ways. But we also see cars lined up for miles (!) waiting for gas. One can get gas much easier if one is willing to pay insane rates on the black market, but overall, people are outraged that their country, which is swimming in oil, has gas shortages under the American occupation. The fact of Iraq is; it's not as simplistic as the American media shows it. One of the film's cameramen, who carries a picture of George Bush in his wallet, is inconsolable later in the film as he tells of how the film's associate producer, Sa'ad Fakher (who was also his best friend), was caught in the thick of the violence on the streets. Upon seeing insurgents shooting in his direction, he had high-tailed his car out of there only to meet a shower of American bullets on the next street. There were 122 bullet holes counted in his car, twelve in his body. Americans can talk about how much better off Iraq is, of how much worse it is, but the reality is much more like that of Sa'ad Fakher. The country is stuck between a rock and a hard place, or as one poet described it, between fire and ice.

This film opens with a dramatic account of a man the director knew, whose wife had died while giving birth to their child during the American bombardment. That is also a perfect analogy. We have given the Iraqis a new hope in life but we've made them pay a devastating price for that hope. As the violence and chaos in the country grow from months into years, one wonders if that trauma is going to do irreversible damage to that hope. Dreams of sparrows isn't good enough for these people. We should be delivering them bright skies filled with cooing and consoling doves.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.27)
26 Votes
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