When Adnan Comes Home
The Human Cost of the War in Iraq
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Filmmaker Andrew Berends strives to tell intimate and meaningful stories, even in the midst of volatile environments. Berends received the International Documentary Association Courage Under Fire award for THE BLOOD OF MY BROTHER about an Iraqi family whose oldest son was killed by an American patrol. WHEN ADNAN COMES HOME, also filmed in Iraq, about a teenager badly burned in a fire while in boys prison in Baghdad was awarded Best Documentary at Vail International Film Festival. Berends most recent photographic work documenting the aftermath of Haitis earthquake for was featured on the Independent Film Channels IFC Media Project.
The most exciting aspect of filming was the openness of his family. As an American traveling to Iraq in the first years of the war, I feared that access would be challenging. During my first weeks in the country, four American contractors were killed and burned in Fallujah, the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, the first major battles in Fallujah and Najaf broke out, the Shia uprising started, and one of the first American hostages was beheaded. But with Adnans family, the Iraqi Arab Islamic culture of hospitality prevailed. They welcomed me in their home allowing full access to the family, including the women, and shared this tragic story as it unfolded.
I have learned time and again that in documentary filmmaking, most of the barriers we encounter only exist in our own imagination.