Time Out says
This nail-gnawing doc is a tale of modest heroism told from a distance.
If you don’t mind a lot of squirming and watching through your fingers, this film about an Iraqi-Kurd army colonel who took it on himself to disable mines in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003 is a proper eye-opener. We watch as Fakhir Berwari puts himself in situations from which most people would run a mile. Berwari coolly hacks at roadside bombs with a pick-axe and wanders around spooky abandoned houses snipping at exposed wires with basic tools that others might use to prune roses. The entire film is like watching someone skip through a field of landmines in slow motion: you’re just waiting for the inevitable boom and cloud of smoke.
Berwari himself knew his story was worth telling, and much of this sober, undemonstrative doc is built around amateur footage of him going about his job back in the mid-2000s. It’s that archive that lends the film its power. It was only in later years, after Berwari narrowly escaped death in an explosion, losing a leg, that co-filmmakers Shinwar Kamal and Hogir Hirori began following him. There’s a horrible sense of fatality hanging over the whole thing as we know Berwari isn’t going to make it. Scenes of his son watching old footage of his dad make his absence felt. We might not get close to the inscrutable Berwari but we sure get a good look at the brave work that makes him worth remembering. n Dave Calhoun