Hamid and Tarek are Canadian boys going to fight in the Libyan revolution. On the outbreak of fighting, they decide to return to their homeland and join the brutal guerilla war to liberate the country. They will be wounded and changed forever by the experience. Their youthful naivety is set against the unforgiving landscape of war, as they learn about life and death on the frontlines. A hugely impressive narrative account of the Libyan revolution.
When the boys first land in Benghazi it almost feels like the start of a holiday. "Bling, bling huh!"
Hamid shouts at a soldier with a gun and bandoliers full of bullets slung over his shoulders. The man smiles back from behind large sunglasses. Sitting in a cafe Tarek asks, "Hamid, have you fired a gun before?"
Hamid responds, chuckling, "I've played Call of Duty, I'm good at it"
. They're laughing and joking, looking forward to the frontlines. Neither of them realise how the field of war will change them.
"It was the first time I saw so much blood, so many dead bodies and I immediately thought I want to be there"
, Hamid says, surrounded by the bloody mayhem of a military hospital in Misrata. He heads to the war with a camera. "We always had the idea that the camera is our gun."
But in the midst of the madness of war, rockets, RPGs, machine guns and anti-aircraft guns, Hamid is handed a gun and puts down the camera. "It's really risky out there, any day I go out there I might die. But I like it."
Tarek goes to Zawiya, his hometown, to fight and defend his family. "I don't mind being shot or dead. Because I believe that you're going to die sooner or later. So why don't you die with pleasure, defending your country"
. The fearful look in his eyes seem to contradict his words. "Tarek is a thinker. There's no time to think in war, just do your job"
, Hamid says.
"Stop it Hamid, You are making fun of me"
, Tarek says, as Hamid teases and pokes him in the brotherly way he's always done. "Can't you see what's happened to me?"
Hamid has been changed as well. As the country descends into chaos, Hamid's hopeful vision for the future of Libya has collapsed. "I feel angry, like betrayed or something. They called us Freedom Fighters in the beginning, now they call us militias."
A unique and powerful narrative, which presents us with a dark reflection on the nature of war.
A Film by Rachel Beth Anderson
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In Competition, First Appearance, IDFA 2013
Official Selection, Human Rights Watch Festival London, 2014
Special Mention of the Jury - FIGRA, 2014
Youth Jury Prize - FIGRA, 2014