See the Iraq you never see

Four teenage boys set loose with digital video cameras in a crazy city sounds like the makings of a Judd Apatow movie about a high-school A/V club. Unless the high school is in Baghdad, during the fall of 2006, and roadside bombings make the daily commute a terrifying journey, and your girlfriend may not be returning your phone calls because she’s — quite possibly — dead. Now you’re talking about the gripping, all-too-real documentary Baghdad High (premiering 8/4 — tonight — on HBO).

Directors Laura Winter and Ivan O’Mahoney have pared 300 hours of raw footage down to 82 lean minutes of the most unimaginably intense adolescent angst. Getting through senior year is hard enough without nightly power outages and Apache helicopters buzzing your roof, but remarkably, these young men persist. What’s most striking is their similarities to teenagers everywhere — especially in their love of the Internet and Britney Spears. We Americans intermittently talk and fret about the future of Iraq. Here it is.

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See the Iraq you never see