Artists' Television Access


Sunday, April 8, 2012, 5:00 pm

In “Qarantina,” his slow-moving, beautifully-lensed second feature set in contemporary Baghdad, Iraqi director Oday Rasheed (“Underexposure”) again describes life in the depressing, angst-ridden city where tanks, bombs and gunfire have become part of the urban landscape. .

 A broken family under patriarch Salih lives uneasily within the gated courtyard of a dilapidated house in Baghdad. Meriam, Salih’s daughter, has fallen silent, refusing to tell her father what’s wrong. Salih’s young second wife, Kerima, and his preteen son, Muhanad, provide Meriam with some protection from her father. Meanwhile, with the family hard up for money, Muhanad must work in the street shining shoes and, more ominously, the entire household must cohabitate with a sullen and imperious boarder, a man who works as a hired killer and has taken Kerima as his mistress. In Qarantina Rasheed gorgeously captures today’s Baghdad, a moody and colorful place in the grip of a brooding listlessness. This stunned atmosphere is furthered by the performances of the formidable cast, who suggest unexpected sources of resilience in the wake of catastrophe.