Tonight on HBO, the next offering in their summer-doc series puts My Super Sweet 16 to shame. Chronicling the senior years of four Iraqi high schoolers, Baghdad High might not be the first do-it-yourself documentary by teens, but the constant threat surrounding the kids on a daily basis adds a layer of heartbreaking realism and a grim dose of perspective.
The kids are all from different backgrounds: a Sunni, a Shiite, a Kurd, and a Christian who document their senior year of 2006-07 while getting ready to take the big exams that will determine who gets into college, and grappling with the decision of whether they'll stay. It's like a typical senior year with the very bitter exception that the boys are able to peg what kind of helicopter is overhead and that the curtains are always drawn, a sign of a shuttered society braced against what could be horror at any moment.
To see how their lives are the same yet wildly different,
Caught up in typical teenage distractions like texting and rap music, their need for escape has a brand apart from their peers in more peaceful climes. The boys discuss the tumult around them, though they rarely peg it to politics or ethnic tensions, at least out loud. The American presence is rarely mentioned. One mother does say, “we shouldn’t blame the Americans for everything. There is something wrong with us, too.”
The HBO premiere is tonight at 9 p.m. Though I would never claim that Gossip Girl isn't realistic or anything, it is a rerun tonight, and the drama in this doc is all real.
Will you check it out?