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MOVIES:

Not all movie nights must focus solely on stories of battle. Sometimes the best conversations come from watching films about ordinary people and their attempts to pursue a normal life. These titles include both traditional war movies and those about life in Iraq and Afghanistan during the U.S. wars.

Afghan Star, (2009) Havana Marking's eye-opening documentary follows four finalists on "Afghan Star," an "American Idol"-style show that's become wildly popular -- yet still extremely controversial -- since the Taliban's ban on music was lifted.

Turtles Can Fly, (2005) Feature film by Iraqi director focusing on the stories of three boys at the time of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Off to War: From Rural Arkansas to Iraq, (2005) Amazing documentary following the lives of soldiers from a rural area in Arkansas through their deployment in Iraq.

Alive Day: Home from Iraq, (2007) Documentary chronicling 10 soldiers who experienced “alive day," a day in which they narrowly escaped death on the battlefield that continues to shape their existence.


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Iraq in Fragments, (2006) Oscar-nominated documentary about the lives of ordinary Iraqis confronting the experience of war in their country.

My Vietnam, Your Iraq (2008) Documentary following the stories of 8 Vietnam veterans whose children are now serving in Iraq.

The Messenger, (2009) Woody Harrelson stars in this feature film about  two soldiers who bond while serving their country—as messengers to families of killed soldiers.

Motherland Afghanistan, (2007) Afghani-American filmmaker Sedika Mojadidi shadows her father, a women's health specialist working to rebuild hospitals in war-torn Afghanistan, in this thought-provoking documentary filmed in the wake of the United States' invasion of the region.

The Beauty Academy of Kabul, (2006) Proving that vanity and the pursuit of beauty are universal, this 2004 documentary tracks a group of American women (including some Afghan émigrés from the 1980s) who open a beauty school in Afghanistan.

Kabul Transit, (2006) This unusual documentary forgoes traditional linear structure and guiding narration to present a picaresque view of life in modern Kabul, where warfare has dramatically impacted the average citizen's vision of a peaceful, prosperous future.