Review: ‘The Dreams of Sparrows’

Setting out to document his native country's post-Saddam journey to freedom, first-time docmaker Hayder Mousa Daffar instead captures collective disillusionment and a descent into chaos in "The Dreams of Sparrows." Unpolished, sometimes gratuitously first-person account nonetheless carries considerable punch as an on-the-street look at how Iraqis view their "liberation" and liberators.

Setting out to document his native country’s post-Saddam journey to freedom, first-time docmaker Hayder Mousa Daffar instead captures collective disillusionment and a descent into chaos in “The Dreams of Sparrows.” Unpolished, sometimes gratuitously first-person account nonetheless carries considerable punch as an on-the-street look at how Iraqis view their “liberation” and liberators. Fest, educational and specialty broadcast exposure is signaled.

Hoping to convey to Westerners the truth about Iraqi life, Daffar and friends began shooting shortly after Saddam’s capture, an event that thrills most (though not all) Bagdad citizens here — “I love him (President Bush) as much as I love my father” gushes one of the helmer’s collaborators. But this celebratory mood palls as destroyed infrastructure — electricity, water, housing, even (in this oil-rich nation) access to gasoline — stays that way, U.S. troops and policies erode popular support, and sectarian violence rises. One of the pic’s own associate producers is killed in his car as he flees local extremists — only to be shot by U.S. soldiers. Interviewing everyone from poets to school kids to sanatorium patients, effective if rough-hewn package could have used less of Daffar’s own diary-like musings.

The Dreams of Sparrows

Iraq-U.S.

Production

A Harbinger Prods. and Iraq Eye production. Produced by Aaron Raskin. Executive producer, Neil Grayson. Directed by Hayder Mousa Daffar.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, Beta SP), Daffar; editors, Aaron Raskin, Chad Redmon; music, Ronen Landa. Reviewed at San Francisco Arab Film Festival, Sept. 23, 2005. English, Arabic dialogue. Running time: 72 MIN.
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