After 'Son of Babylon', another heartfelt and beautifully shot production coming from Iraq is 'Qarantina', which had its European premiere this weekend at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Directed by Oday Rasheed, this intimate film concentrates (or quarantines) the drama of post-war Iraq in the relationships between five characters: an unnamed professional killer who lives with a family of four in an abandoned building.
While the hitman feels increasingly alienated from human contact, the family has its own problems. The daughter hasn't spoken or eaten for days, mute with the shame of an unwanted pregnancy. The stepmother, who has started an affair with the hitman, finds depressingly little difference between the two men. And the father broods and watches his family disintegrate - "Oh God, these are days of the devil", he exclaims at one point - but can only respond with violence.
Rasheed's quiet and subtle storytelling, in carefully staged, mostly indoor scenes, leaves much of the drama implied. The violence and oppression of contemporary Baghdad are conveyed as an everpresent backdrop, part of daily life. And though the character of the hitman may well be viewed as symbolizing the numbing violence destroying society, 'Qarantina' gives equal weight to the social problems tearing society apart from the inside.
Update: You can now watch the entire film on the IFFR YouTube channel.