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RENTAL UNIT: "The Dreams of Sparrows"

What we see is often astonishing. To paraphrase a joke from an old '70s movie, they've shown us the dump, where's the city? Every wide-angle shot captured by Daffar reveals a seemingly stunning array of crumbling cinderblock, strewn trash and, of course, dead people. Daffar does not linger too long over Iraqi suffering, however, though he could probably fill several such films with it. Mostly he captures everyday citizens trying to fashion some semblance of normal life out of the mayhem and rubble. Many, we learn, are still fond of Bush, if only because the war ended Saddam. Others miss their dictator. Still others cry out for security or mere infrastructure. In some of the most moving segments, Daffar interviews artists who survived Saddam and his prisons only to see more torture under the hands of the liberators.

The photography is simple, the editing amateur and the structure virtually nonexistent. There is hardly a peep of actual war footage, probably because Daffar, like the rest of us, doesn't want to get shot or blown up. This is no award-winning film, but it is in its near uniqueness a revelation and a must-see document. How can anyone living in this country not want to see it, not want to look at the faces and the homes and businesses and parks we've been machine-gunning, bombing and bulldozing? It should be a best seller. — Wayne Melton

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