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Hero cleans up the mess left by war

30 April, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

The heroic Fakir Berwari in The Deminer

THE DEMINER
Directed by Shinwar Kamal and Hogir Hirori
Certificate 15
☆☆☆☆

FAKIR Berwari stands in front of a gathering crowd and urges them to go home, to put their arms down, to get on with their family life, to stop killing their brothers. And then a huge explosion rocks the camera and showers the scene in debris, amid screams and chaos.

Berwari is the deminer, the hero of this extraordinary post-2003 Iraqi invasion film. He is a soldier in the Iraqi army who specialises in defusing landmines. His job takes him into fields and alongside roads, armed with little more than a shovel and pair of wire-cutters – he sees it as his duty to make the communal land of his country safe again for all.

Drawing on caches of footage he and his fellow anti-mine unit shot, this film creates a portrait of a person whose bravery is beyond words, doing a vital job in the most trying of circumstances. Intercut with him telling his own story through the work he is doing are interviews with his family, giving the viewer a horrible sense of doom that must be approaching for a man who deals with volatile, homemade, high-explosive devices using not much more than his own raw experience and a pickaxe.

It is scary stuff, but violence is, and the directors say that this is the story they are telling, so we need to experience it in all its rawness.

Through this very personal story, we are given a wider concept to chew on: we are asked to consider the overall failure of our species to understand that the battle for resources, for power and for control is a battle no one can ever win, and that the ultimate result is simply tragedy?

This documentary does not preach nor rail against the American/Allied invasion or the evils of Saddam Hussein’s violent regime.

Instead it creates a portrait of a man who looks around him and realises that his world is not right. He then uses the skills he has to try to sort out what is within his scope to do so.

A moving, historically important document, helped by the first-class footage collated to tell the story of a genuine hero. The Deminer is as powerful a film about the Iraq war as has been made in the past decade.

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