June 19, 2008
"genuinely touching, heartbreaking and inspiring story, and one of the most memorable documentaries in recent years."
New York Times
May 23, 2008
“Both a stirring testament to the plight of cultural expression in Baghdad and a striking report on the refugee scene in Syria, this rock-doc like no other electrifies its genre and redefines headbanging as an act of hard-core courage.”
Los Angeles Times
May 23, 2008
“More than just another Iraq-doc, "Heavy Metal" is a surprisingly up-close look at the toll of the war on young people, and how they still have dreams and still want to jam, party and get down. If "Once" was about the romance of creativity, "Heavy Metal in Baghdad" is about the total, unrelenting obsession. They have no choice. They must rock.”
New York Post
May 23, 2008
Three Stars (***)
“Just when I thought the war in Iraq had been examined from every possible angle, along comes "Heavy Metal in Baghdad," a fascinating documentary on the country's only heavy metal band, Acrassicauda.”
New York Daily News
May 23, 2008
Three stars (***)
“Western metal acts are bound to feel like posers when they see this intense documentary on Acrassicauda”
“…the dangers these musicians experience every single day are bound to impact any audience. This is what it really looks like to bang your head against the wall.”
May 23, 2008
Tthe movie reclaims metal's appeal to the powerless as well as its threat—when you can get shot for wearing a Slipknot T-shirt…or speaking the English you learned off Master of Puppets, raising those devil horns isn't an empty act of aggression. Given the courageously downbeat closing note, here's hoping a follow-up catches Acrassicauda rockin' the free world.
Time Out New York
May 21, 2008
Four stars (****)
“There is a genuine poignancy in the way these brash young men find the determination to endure through Slayer and Slipknot. But as a heartbreaking final scene plays out in Damascus, you can only wonder how a gravely wounded people can survive a nation’s demise.”
The New York Times
May 22, 2008
"Headbangers From Iraq, Thrashing and Waiting"
Radar Magazine Online
"The 84-minute features gives voice to a generation of Iraqi youths who yearn for peace and the freedom to play their music loud." Story
"Whether you love or hate metal, Acrassicauda's struggle to stay together-and alive-will rock you." Story
Lost At Sea
9.2/10 - See this film when you get the chance, visit the film's website, and for the sake of Acrassicauda, the next time you hear some heavy metal crank the volume to 11, throw up the horns and bang your head. Story
New York Sun
"A great parable about rock 'n' roll as an act of brotherhood and faith in collective survival." Story
THE DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL.COM
"One part political doc, one part music doc, "Heavy Metal in Baghdad" manages to be moving and memorable in a way few films that have taken on the heady subject of the war have managed." Story
CNN covers HMiB: Story
The New Yorker covers HMiB: Story
- "a casual but urgent movie about choices that are entitlements to some but unimaginable luxuries for others."
Robert Christgau on HMiB: Story
DEUTSCHE WELLE, January 13, 2008: Story
TIME OUT ISTANBUL, January 1, 2008: Story
The Toronto-born directors, Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi, strove to articulate the band's "anger and anxiety that the world has turned its back on Iraq," says Moretti, 35…Shot on handheld cameras, accompanied by a heavily armed security crew and with the sounds of artillery and gunfire in the background, Heavy Metal in Baghdad allows the musicians' story to be seen in its larger context… As the situation worsens in Iraq, they flee the country, to Damascus. In total, 2.2 million Iraqis have left the country, and the worsening refugee situation is told through the break-up of the band. "This is one of the fastest-growing humanitarian crises in the world," says Alvi.
- The Globe and Mail
...the film's strength lies in its small scope and distinct disinterest in forcing the bigger picture on the viewer—the story of the lives of the Acrassicauda itself works as a perfect microcosm for the struggles of Iraq’s people and is deeply moving and enraging. Importantly, too, the film works as a better explanation of the healing power of heavy metal than the (dire) Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey. Heck, it might not only be one of the best films about Iraq but one of the best films about metal. Period. 4.5/5
Improbably moving, this first feature documentary from the hipster Vice empire is about much more than its title suggests. Yes, it’s about the only metal band in Iraq, a quintet of ambitious, foul-mouthed 20-somethings called Acrassicauda, who learned English from contraband Metallica and Slipknot albums. But it’s also about how thoroughly the war has destroyed the lives of average Iraqis, the overwhelming majority of whom want just a modicum of peace and freedom. At great peril, Suroosh Alvi, Vice magazine co-founder and the film’s co-director, travels deep into Baghdad and Damascus (where the band members eventually become refugees) to observe how these young men struggle to live lives taken for granted by millions of North American headbangers. Marred only by its occasional self-aggrandizement, the film is a refreshing, compassionate and stirring wake-up call—with a killer soundtrack.
- Toronto Life
Documenting the band Acrassicauda in Heavy Metal in Baghdad was a “risky, dangerous, and really fucking stupid” undertaking, according to journalist Suroosh Alvi, and those words are certainly descriptive enough for this film. I was expecting a relatively light-hearted, fun and even novel documentary on the only heavy metal band in Baghdad. And yes, there are more than a few “light” moments, but this is a sober and emotional blow to the head of the reality of what is happening in Iraq as seen through the eyes of people just like me: regular, working class guys who are also passionate about music. And it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen on the news.
- Toronto Screen Shots