Negar and Ashkan are trying to form a band to travel to London to play a concert. Well-known on the indie rock scene in Teheran, they are meeting with other musicians and practicing songs together in empty warehouses and basements. Meanwhile, they meet Nader (Behdad), who helps them get the necessary travel documents on the black market. Nader is a smiling fast-talker for whom anything is possible, and Negar and Ashkan have no choice but to trust him.
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On the Iranian side of the Kurdish border with Iraq, a young boy names Ayoub (Ayoub Ahmadi) -- along with three brothers and two sisters -- toil away as day-laboring book smugglers while their father (also a smuggler) is gone at work. Tragedy strikes when they learn that their dwarf brother, 15-year old Madi (Mehdi Ekhtiar-Dini) will die in a month from an unknown illness, and that only an immediate operation will extend his life, a few extra months, at that.
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What they discover is a people brutalized by the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, who is engaged in 1991-1992's relentless campaign of bombing both Iranian and Iraqi Kurdistan's destitute villages as retribution for trying, with the first President Bush's encouragement, to rise up against him. As Mirza and his sons make their way from town to town, what they discover is a trail of blood and misery - most of the settlements are abandoned, with the men having been summarily killed by Saddam (frequently with chemical weapons) and the women forced to flee into the snowbound mountain ranges. Yet unlike his oppressively bleak debut, Marooned in Iraq is not bereft of levity. From their encounter with a matchmaker trying to appease a dissatisfied customer to Barat's blossoming love for a grieving woman and Audeh's constant complaining about his abandoned seven wives and 13 daughters (and his attempts to find yet another wife who will finally bear him a son), Ghobadi portrays the Kurds as full of resilient courage and liveliness, qualities that have helped sustain these browbeaten minorities during Saddam's reign of terror.
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