Dir: Laura Poitras. US. 2006. 90mins.
The trouble with current affairs documentaries istheir topicality: contemporary as they may seem at the time, they lose lustreby the time they premiere.
It could be an obstacle forLaura Poitras' MyCountry, My Country, about the Iraqi elections of January 2005. There islittle more she can add to the media reports, while taking the Americans totask has been done countless times already.
Thankfully Poitras takes a different tack, trying to look at thesituation through Iraqi eyes. The result is a valuable addition to thedocumentation of the situation with distinct festival and television potential.
The election is partly toldthrough Dr Ryadh, a Sunni Muslim and father of six, whowas running as an election candidate- until his party withdrew from the race atthe last moment.
His presence, as much asthat of his ebullient family, puts a human face on a conflict presented by themedia increasingly in terms of statistics and strategy.
It is juxtaposed with aconcise account of the preparations made by the occupying forces in Iraq aheadof the election, who make statements like: "No one hasany illusions about these elections, what they are is a big show'.
Also heard is the argumentthat, if the Americans can enforce brand of democracy in Iraq, then it willlegitimise similar interventions in the future. That this version of democracymight not fit the Iraqi people, as one of the interviewees implies, hasapparently not been factored into the equation.
Meanwhile a bloody conflictrelentlessly continues in the background, as bombs explode, people are murderedon the street and kids are kidnapped.
At the end, Dr Ryadh, admits that he and his family must be suicidal totry and continue to survive there.
DV photography is by Poitras herself, which could explain the intimacy of thefamily scenes, and is accompanied by the plaintive music of KazimAl Sahir.
Editing is brisk, meshing Poitras' footage with that from newscast footage.
Independent Television Service