| Page 55 | DocHouse

Seven months after the end of the war, Sean Langan (Behind the Lines, Travels of a Gringo), armed with just a camera, takes a brave and eventful trip through Iraq, seeking to shed light on what life is like in this newly occupied territory. As well as interviews with civilians, Langan joins the US-led coalition on patrol (even at times of attack) as well as instigating secret meetings with the resistance fighters.

Soon after the 2003 Iraq war, filmmaker Maysoon Pachachi returns to Baghdad after 35 years. She accompanies her father, 80-year Adnan who has returned to head a committee drafting a temporary constitution and Bill of Rights. We follow this torturous process, with its arguments over wording changes demanded by Washington or compromises to satisfy sectarian interests.

A Company of Soldiers follows the US Army's 8th Cavalry Regiment stationed in Baghdad for an up-close, intimate look at the dangers facing an American unit in Iraq. Shot during the month of Ramadan and the campaign for Fallujah, the film tracks the day-to-day challenges facing the 8th Cavalry's Dog Company as it suddenly has to cope with a dramatic increase in insurgent attacks.

GEORGI AND THE BUTTERFLIES

Dir: Andrey Paounov

Bulgarian entrepreneur, eccentric and eternal optimist Dr. Georgi Lulchev attempts to turn around a mismanaged hospital for psychiatric patients. His dream is to create a farm where patients can raise snails, ostriches and pheasants, produce silk fibres and soy bread. Director Andrey Paounov films the ill-fated ideas which flow from Georgi's mind with affection and a keen eye for cinematic beauty; a charming and life-affirming tale.

IN THE DARK

Dir: Sergei Dvortsevoy

In a small flat in Moscow, an 80-year old man is making woollen bags. His work is difficult: not only is he blind, but his knitting is constantly unravelled by his only companion, a small white cat. When he takes his bags down to the street to sell, nobody wants them - everyone is carrying plastic bags. The latest masterpiece by Sergei Dvortsevoy (Paradise, Bread Day, Highway) is a moving metaphor for a Russia in transition.

Australian filmmaker Cathy Henkel returns to Johannesburg where fourteen years ago, her mother was sexually assaulted and beaten in her suburban home by a local teenager. Henkel's despair at an ineffective police investigation as well as her mothers' inability to recover from this violent attack drives her to seek out and confront her mother's attacker. A disquieting film about justice, healing and bond between mother and daughter.

THE PRESIDENT VS DAVID HICKS

Dir: Curtis Levy

"And obviously we gave him the wrong advice, didn't we?" retorts Bev, stepmother of Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks, "because the next we heard he was on his way to Afghanistan to join the Taliban." Australian David Hicks, incarcerated in a cell in Guantamano Bay for over two years, has been refused access to a normal trial hearing, and has had no contact with any family members. 

DIG!

Dir: Ondi Timoner

A hit of the festivals, DIG! was shot over seven years and follows the lead singers of the Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jones Massacre; star crossed friends and bitter rivals. From the moment they met, the two bands quickly bonded over their refusal to conform to the tastes of the recording industry. Yet the bands' choices over how to express their creativity and originality in a profit-driven industry eventually put them at irreconcilable odds. 

THE RAMONES: END OF THE CENTURY

Dir: Jim Fields & Michael Gramaglia

In 1974, the New York City music scene was shocked into consciousness by the violently new and raw sound of a band of misfits called The Ramones. This film traces the band from its unlikely origins, through its star-crossed career, its bitter demise and the sad fates of Joey and Dee Dee. End Of The Century is a vibrant, candid document of one of the most influential groups in the history of rock.

THE MINDERS

Dir: Sean McAllister

Baghdad,1998 and the pressure is intense. Hundreds of journalists are in town and Sean McAllister is one of them.But instead of focusing on the talking heads and the staged demonstrations, McAllister turns his camera on two "minders", those assigned by the Iraqi Ministry of Information to patrol what foreigners see and do not see. 

WAR FEELS LIKE WAR

Dir: Esteban Manzanares Uyarra

A compelling account of the brutalities of 21st Century war, told through the eyes of independent journalists. Esteban Uyarra's film documents the lives of reporters and photographers who subverted military media controls to get access to the real Iraq War.

The film interweaves the stories of four obsessive men, each driven to create eccentric worlds of their dreams, all involving animals: Dave Hoover, a lion tamer who idolizes the late Clyde Beatty, and who shares his theories on the mind of wild animals; George Mendonça, a topiary gardener who has devoted a lifetime to painstakingly shaping bears and giraffes out of hedges and trees; Ray Mendez, who is fascinated with hairless mole-rats, tiny buck-toothed mammals who behave like insects; and Rodney Brooks, an M.I.T. scientist who has designed complex, autonomous robots that can crawl like bugs without specific instructions from a human controller. 

Agnès Varda's exuberantly inventive follow-up to her critically lauded essay film, in which she revisits characters from the original and further explores what it means to be a "gleaner." Varda's own ruminations on her life as a filmmaker (a gleaner of sorts) give her a connection to her subjects that creates a touching human portrait.