Acrassicauda are a heavy metal/rock band from Iraq. You probably havent heard of them because technically, they are the only able-bodied group of Muslims who play heavy metal music in Iraq. Hipster media monster Vice knows of them and travelled halfway across the globe to show you just how badass Baghdad can be, both in the trenches and in the mosh pits.
The aptly titled film was shot Guerrilla-style on handheld cameras by Canadian-born directors/Vice founders Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi. We become instantly immersed in the misadventures of both the film crew (who get a harsh dose of post-Bush shock treatment) and the struggling band, who give a gleefully candid tour of their hell to their journalistic supporters.
To say that the films style is "gonzo would be an understatement; the shots are mostly grainy and shaky, considering all the fleeing and re-routing that had to be done throughout. If it isnt the non-stop shelling, creeping snipers or shambolic gunfire straining the process, its the widespread anxiety keeping the filmmakers on their toes.
Luckily, Alvi and Moretti retain a sharp sense of humour to quell the feelings of unrest that loom about. Were often subjected to a dose of sardonic one-liners and jokes, and soon enough, Acrassicauda warm up to the pairs empathy. There are a few heart-warming moments, like Vice funding the bands biggest ever concert, at Baghdads Al-Fanar Hotel, surrounded by U.S. forces, private armies and police. The event is plagued by power outages and then panic when a mortar explodes next to the hotel. But the band members barely flinch. "Were used to it, says Tony, the bands bassist. "We live with death every day. We get used to it. Were not even allowed to grow our hair long because the government will persecute us for being Satanists.
Vice also helped the group make their first demo record. Three full songs later, the band get plastered on Alvi and Morettis dime. While watching them stumble and belch like novices, its hard not to feel a sense of humility, which is what eventually transforms the film into a poignant reminder for those of us who take our freedom for granted. (Vice Films)