Guest Author - Lorna London Sloukji
Like anywhere else, Baghdad, Iraq contains teenagers who face the daily stress of school, family, relationships, and inner conflicts. Baghdad High follows the lives of four Iraqi teens through their senior year as they embark on new changes and challenges.
The Iraqi boys themselves shoot the footages with hand-held cameras, making this HBO special an intimate and realistic portrayal of teenage life in both Baghdad and anywhere else in the world. The documentary debuts Monday August 4 (9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT) only on HBO.
It will also be showcased on HBO on August 5 (12:10 a.m.), August 7 (8:30 a.m.), August 13 (5:30 p.m.), and August 16 (3:00 p.m.). HBO2 play dates include August 4 (1:05 a.m.), August 13 (11:25 p.m.), August 22 (1:00 p.m.), and August 31 (7:30 a.m.).
Baghdad High is part of the HBO documentary films summer series, which presents a new film every Monday night at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT) through August 25. You can catch other provocative titles in the August documentary line-up such as “We are Together: The Children of Agape Choir” (August 11); “Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House” (August 18), and “The Black List, Vol. 1” (August 25).
Ivan O’Mahoney, one of the directors and producers of Baghdad High says, “The daily news about Iraq was so relentlessly depressing for so many years. It was therefore fantastic to realize while making this film that there is normality amidst all the violence, and that people do lead normal lives, despite the mayhem around them. It gave me a lot of hope to see kids be kids.”
The teens involved in the documentary series collected more than 300 hours of tape, which were then edited into the final product by the senior producers. The characters featured in the series are quite diverse, from Amar, who is a womanizer and soccer player, Hayder, an aspiring singer-songwriter, Ali, who wants to be an architect, and Mohammed, the one who’s still trying to figure it all out.
These teens could be gossiping about Hollywood celebrities and fashion, but instead, they are surrounded by suicide bombings, kidnappings, violence, and strict city curfews.
Co-director and co-producer, Laura Winter states, “One of the things I was struck by was that all these documentaries coming out of Iraq were done for, or by, adults. Iraqi children had not been more than a UN statistic about the dead, kidnapped, or injured.”
In the month of October 2006, marks the most violent month since America invaded Iraq which resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 men, women, and children because of their religion.
Baghdad High shows you first-hand what it’s like to miss school because leaving the house is too dangerous and the horrendous fear of living in a war zone. As the city grows more dangerous, each of the 17-year olds’ families must make the crucial decision of remaining in Baghdad or fleeing to safer areas.
“The fact that the kids are all from different backgrounds, and yet remained friends as their city was torn to bits by sectarian violence, was one of the most satisfying parts of making Baghdad High,” states Laura Winter. “It filled us with great hope for Iraq's future - and maybe ours, too.”