2006, 21 minutes
Purchase: $210 Classroom Rental: $65
* Academy Award nominee, Best Documentary Short Subject, 2008 *
From the director of the Academy Award nominated Iraq in Fragments, this short powerful documentary follows an Iraqi mother struggling under U.S. occupation to care for her son, who is dying of AIDS.
As US military helicopters fly overhead, a mother administers injections to her young son, Sari, in a small clay hut in the Mahmudiyah region of central Iraq. Sari, only ten years old, contracted AIDS during a blood transfusion. Plagued by constant pain and fatigue, his immune system is failing and his condition is gradually deteriorating. Determined to help her son any way she can, Sari's mother embarks on a Sisyphean journey to Baghdad, into the offices of government officials, devastated hospitals, and the country's labyrinthine healthcare system.
Filmed over a period of one year, Sari's Mother employs the same stunning camera work and intimacy evidenced in James Longley's previous film to offer a rare singular portrait of a resilient Iraqi woman.
Pre-War Iraq - a 14 minute documentary by director James Longley
Subjects & Collections
Festivals & Awards* Golden Gate Award for Best Short Documentary, San Francisco International Film Festival, 2007
* Official Selection, Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival, 2007
* Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival, 2006
* Official Selection, San Francisco International Film Festival. 2007
* Official Selection, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, 2007
* Official Selection, Istanbul International Film Festival, 2007
* Official Selection, Mexico City Film Festival, 2007
* Official Selection, True/False Film Festival, 2007
Reviews“A masterpiece! Rivaling his celebrated feature Iraq in Fragments as a feat of lyrical reportage, Longley’s compact portrait of an Iraqi woman and her AIDS-infected son speaks volumes at a whisper. His repertoire of effects isn't simple virtuosity but a sophisticated language of compassion; there’s heartbreak in his ellipses, strength in his frame, empathy in his light.” - Nathan Lee, Village Voice
“[Three and a half stars] Highly recommended! A deeply moving documentary short…. [It] should make Americans think twice about the much-ballyhooed benchmarks for measuring the success of the U.S. mission in Iraq.” - Video Librarian
“Quietly intense… A poignant film.” - Al Jadid: A Review & Record of Arab Culture and Arts
“A powerful documentary short. Highly recommended for public, high school, and academic libraries.... Doing her best to raise a family against the impossible backdrop of illness and war, Sari’s mother maintains a resoluteness and modesty that are remarkable. The film unsentimentally—and convincingly—portrays her as a fighter and a hero. The film also excels at depicting the larger issues of daily life in occupied Iraq, where chores and play can be interrupted at any moment by military machines. In one of the most effective scenes of this type, Sari and his brothers are seen playing war with homemade models of Hummers, but are interrupted by the swooshing of real war planes overhead, which sends the boys scurrying to watch." - Educational Media Reviews Online