Directors Suroosh Alvi & Eddy Moretti discover that there exists a heavy metal band in Iraq. They track down Acrassicauda and quickly realize there is no active story. The band no longer plays together. Their practice space was destroyed in a missile attack. The members each talk about leaving Iraq. A year later, when Alvi and Moretti meet up with the members of Acrassicauda the band has relocated to Syria and they have staked their future on the success of one show. It is only through Alvi and Moretti’s arm twisting (and surely financial helping) that the band spends a few days in a recording studio cranking out a demo. Occasionally, the disrupted lives and dreams of Acrassicauda’s members speaks to the impact of the Iraqi war on all Iraqis.
That a metal band exists in Iraqi is not the most surprising aspect of Heavy Metal in Baghdad. The filmmaker’s lack of pause as they obviously influence and even guide their subject’s actions is far more interesting.
There are camps in the documentary field who strictly believe that filmmakers should not get involved in the lives of their subjects and that they should remain objective observers. I for one question just how detached documentary filmmakers can be. To some degree the filmmaker is always working in the interest of their story or their own agenda, but usually they try to cover up or edit out their manipulations.
Heavy Metal in Baghdad‘s lack of indiscretion towards pure methods of observational documentary come not from a strong political stance on what role documentarian think they should play, but rather from an amateur sloppiness mixed with a subject that did not provide the greatest access to its filmmakers. The film seemingly starts, stops and starts a new at least once or twice. I must give the filmmakers credit for inventing new ways to keep the story going, but Heavy Metal in Baghdad feels more about the filmmakers desires to make a film than to let Acrassicauda tell their story.