Heavy Metal in Baghdad ( M) Universal ( 84 minutes) $ 29.95 THE drummer in Iraqi heavy metal band Acrassicauda ( black scorpion) doesn’t give a damn about the news; he just wants to rock. That’s easier said than done, of course, when you are the news, or at least your country, your city, your way of life, is in turmoil. So it is for the members of Acrassicauda, who learn English and draw musical inspiration from the likes of heavy metal gods Metallica and Slayer while practising their riffs in a battle-scarred basement. This documentary by Canadians Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi tracks the fortunes, such as they are, of Iraq’s only heavy metal band ( or so they say) as they face up to far greater problems than getting their amps to go up to 11. Finding a gig, for example, is nigh on impossible and even if you get one there are the everyday hazards of car bombs and shootings to get through before you consider whether anyone will show up to hear you. This low-budget affair is as much about the directors as it is about the band. Alvi and Moretti travelled by circuitous routes to get into Baghdad on several occasions through several years to monitor Acrassicauda’s progress. Speaking as someone who wouldn’t cross my lounge room to hear Acrassicauda’s hardcore brand of heavy metal, one can at least admire the pair’s determination. Their filmmaking, however, is less rewarding. The film fluctuates between music doco and war-zone doco without nailing its flag to either. Australian filmmaker George Gittoes said as much about Acrassicauda and their plight in 10 minutes in his film Soundtrack to War as this does in 84.
Iain Shedden EXTRAS: Featurettes; deleted scenes.