My Country, My Country

Runs at Varsity, Fri., Sept. 29–Thurs., Oct. 5. Not rated. 90 minutes.

An experienced progressive doc maker, Laura Poitras has made the definitive nonfiction film about the Iraq occupation. As a counterpoint to acres of corporate-spun non-news, it is indispensable. Time and again, in the months leading to the 2005 elections, Poitras manages to be where platoons of U.S. telejournalists have been afraid to go, following a heroic Sunni activist doctor named Riyadh on a quiet crusade in and around the Triangle to repair whatever damage he can, and to get as many Sunnis to vote as possible—even if it's not for him. It's a project that even takes him to the fences around Abu Ghraib: "We're an occupied country with a puppet government," Riyadh says to the pleading prisoners, "what do you expect?" Poitras, traveling alone, also rides with the Kurdish militia, records U.S. military briefings, attends outraged public hearings, and sits in Sunni living rooms as shells fall in the street. She never intrudes on her own movie; what we see, remarkably, has the electric heat of a new experience, of seeing what has been heretofore officially proscribed. MICHAEL ATKINSON

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