What is left of a country that has been ravaged by wars for decades? Iraqi filmmaker Ahmed Abd was nine years old when his country was invaded in 2003. To distract himself, he wrote four stories about superheroes who would save him. But in The Fifth Story he gives up this illusion.
Abd’s film shows how different generations still carry the burden of the war with them. A teenage boy can’t get the image of dead bodies out of his mind. A young woman talks about fighting against ISIS with the Kurdish armed forces. An older man remembers exactly what the victims looked like that he had to bury.
These disturbing stories of the four wars that Iraqis have experienced over the past 40 years are sometimes accompanied by archive footage. In his fragmentary style, Abd also often takes a more poetic approach, with dreamlike shots of murky water or bare feet walking through the forest. As well as documenting the physical and mental devastation, The Fifth Story also cautiously opens a door to beauty and contemplation.