In this striking documentary, Italian-American film-maker Gianfranco Rosi (Fire at Sea) explores the aftermath of war in the Middle East, filming Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon over a three-year period. Rosi’s method of patient observation allows him to make poetic connections across borders; a military drill that takes place at dawn is juxtaposed with a group of grieving mothers who wander an empty prison in an orderly procession.
With no intervening text or voiceover, it can be hard to discern the individual locations and their different political contexts. Instead, Rosi’s broader critique of violence is implied through footage of a play performed by patients in a psychiatric hospital, and of a children’s art therapy class. He is more interested in the reverberations of conflict than the source, focusing on those who have suffered its effects directly.