Heavy Metal in Baghdad, which had its US premiere at SXSW, follows Acrassicauda, Iraq's only (yes, only) heavy metal band, as they try to stay alive and keep making music through the fall of Saddam Hussein and the growing insurgency in the aftermath of the Iraq war. This is the kind of film that makes me tremendously grateful to live in a country where I can freely write about film, or pick up a camera and make one. I can pick up a bass and start a rock band, and I can dress how I like and wear my hair how I like without fear of being shot or arrested.
The members of Acrassicauda, before they moved out of Iraq to Syria and then Turkey, did not have those priveliges. For them, the mere wearing of at Metallica t-shirt, or growing their hair long, or even wearing a goatee, could mark them for harrasment, imprisonment, or death. Filmmakers Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi follow the band from 2003-2006, capturing the band's hopes, dreams, and attempts to keep the band together amidst mortar fire, car bombs, and the ever-growing threat of persecution for embodying Western ideals through their music.