BAGHDAD –“Heavy Metal in Baghdad,” the docu about the Iraqi band Acrassicauda which was screened at last fall’s Toronto Film Festival, may be extended to include the rockers during the time they were in Turkey before the pic is released commercially in the new year.
“We’re looking at making it longer,” said bassist Firas al Lateef, spokesman for the quartet, which calls itself Iraq’s heavy metal group. “Since it was made we have moved on to Turkey. A lot has happened to us. The film is 92 minutes. It is possible we will add to it.”
Pic, co-helmed by Suroosh Alvi and Eddy Moretti, created a buzz when it was screened at the Toronto fest in September, with Variety describing it as “a distinctive fest add, unique cable buy and ancillary fan acquisition.”
Docu tracks the plight of the quartet which fled Baghdad to Syria in 2006 amid an explosion of sectarian violence in Iraq that targeted in particular actors intellectuals, professors, artists, poets, musicians — and, of course, heavy metal freaks.
The foursome regrouped in Damascus and managed to eke out a pittance with a few gigs here and there.
They were forced to sell their instruments to survive, however, and, when the Syrian authorities tightened up on visas, they suddenly found they had to find another country to take them in.
Going back to Baghdad was not an option for the band whose name means “black scorpion” in Latin, so they chose Turkey.
“We dare not go back to Iraq. We’ll be targeted even more than before,” Lateef told Variety by telephone from Istanbul, where the four band members are seeking official refugee status.
Ironically, publicity generated by the docu has worked against them.
“All this publicity has occurred. Our pictures are all over the Internet. We’ve become a big thing mediawise,” said Lateef over a crackly connection.
“Most Iraqis now know about us. To be known in Iraq is not a good thing.”
They arrived in Istanbul mid-October having raised limited funds through earnest pleas on their website http://www.heavymetalinbaghdad.com
“We’re staying here as refugees. We have registered with the UNHCR,” Lateef said, referring to the U.N. refugee agency.
While waiting for a decision on their application, they say they have found the Turkish people generous and, two weeks ago, they were invited to play at one of Istanbul’s best-known rock bars, Kemancy.
“A couple of other groups played with us. I couldn’t count the people because there were so many,” said Lateef. “A lot of famous rock names attended the concert.”
For now they are kicking their heels, hoping for another gig or perhaps even a tour of Turkey, where , unlike in the Middle East, heavy metal is popular.
“We know nothing about our future or what’s going to happen. We don’t know anything. We’re just living day by day. We are just waiting to see what the UNHCR is going to do,” said Lateef.