Dir/scr: Koutaiba Al-Janabi. UK-Iraq-UAE. 2010. 85mins
Koutaiba Al Janabi’s low-budget road movie, which had its world premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival, is a thoughtfully paced story of Saddam Hussain’s personal cameraman Sadiq (Sadiq Al-Heffner) seeking to escape to the UK, but haunted by the disappearance of his son. A challenging, provocative and controversial film, it is likely to find a home at other film festivals, and could well intrigue distributors.
Leaving Baghdad (Al Raheel Min Baghdad) makes for sobering and challenging viewing and is distinctive with regards the brutal real footage used.
As he makes his plans to escape Baghdad – the film is set prior to the invasion of the country – Sadiq begins writing a letter to his lost son… a letter that explains his reasons for joining the Ba’ath party and his initial pride in becoming Saddam’s personal cameraman.
He describes how his initial pleasure at documenting Saddam’s family events was soon dispelled when his work moved on to recording tortures and executions under the brutal regime.
The film is punctuated by powerful and shocking real-footage of torture and killings by Saddam’s men, which are set alongside footage of a smiling Saddam celebrating a child’s birthday. The footage of the kills and torture makes for laugh and controversial viewing, but also help give the film a real sense of anger.
Sadiq manages to keep one step ahead of forces trying to locate him, but when he arrives in Budapest he finds it increasingly difficult to find a way of finding a way to reach the UK. He also keeps up writing to his son – eventually revealing the dark truth behind what happened to him.
Despite its low-budget, Leaving Baghdad (Al Raheel Min Baghdad) makes for sobering and challenging viewing and is distinctive with regards the brutal real footage used.
Production company: Reel Art Pictures
Sales contact: Koutaiba Al-Janabi, firstname.lastname@example.org
Producer: Koutaiba Al Janabi
Executive producers: Hanna Heffner, Saad Al-Janabi
Cinematography: Koutaiba Al-Janabi
Editors: Tiger White, Francesco Carvelli
Music: Tom Donald Quartet
Main cast: Sadik Al-Attar, Rang Omar, Attila Solymosy, Jasmin Al Timimi