***** (Five stars)
What one might expect to be a somber documentary about the hardships of growing up in Iraq is instead an energizing and intimate glimpse into the lives of four ordinary teenage boys. These four teenagers are given video cameras and asked to document their senior year in high school. Despite the violence and distress around them, they still manage to lead “normal” lives—they listen to Britney Spears, text message their girlfriends and procrastinate on their homework.
As the boys and their families open up on camera, they share their opinions on education, the Iraqi government and America’s involvement in the war. Though the commentary is humorous at times, these families are still seen dealing with the side effects of a nation torn apart by war. By the end of the film, the conditions in Iraq worsen, forcing two of the boys (and half the school) to flee the country and leave behind homes and friendships. Via its students-eye view, Baghdad High provides a refreshing look into Iraq that is different from what is seen in our daily news.—Kelsey Rahn, online designer
[This is a TONY staff review, written for the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. It is not considered an official review and should not be read as such. Please think of it as a casual impression from a movie-loving friend.]