Leaving Baghdad is a road movie that follows Sadik, the personal cameraman to the leader Saddam Hussein, at the end of the nineties. Sadik is trying to escape the grip of the regime, being ...
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Leaving Baghdad is a road movie that follows Sadik, the personal cameraman to the leader Saddam Hussein, at the end of the nineties. Sadik is trying to escape the grip of the regime, being pursued from country to country, encountering smugglers and crooks on his journey. Sadik suffers from paranoia and constant fear. The Iraqi secret police are after him because he is carrying evidence of the atrocities committed by the regime. Sadik is dreaming to go to London, to join his wife who is, however, unwilling to help. In his despair and loneliness, Sadik writes letters to his son, Semir. These letters turn into a confession and reveal Sadik's past and the real reason for his fleeing , the endless waiting and his paranoia.Written by
Leaving Baghdad, directed by Koutaiba Al-Janadi, and seen by me at a viewing in Cambridge organised by the Independent Film Trust.
A short, (85minute), thoroughly absorbing film, it follows the fictitious but only too believable attempt of an Iraqi cameraman to escape the clutches of Saddam's murderous regime by making his way across Europe to London and safety.
Sadik is one of Saddam's official photographers with access to, and filming the most intimate and, what we learn later, darkest moments of the ruling Ba'athist party.
Somehow things have gone badly wrong for Sadik and the plot follows him as he escapes Iraq but eventually coming up against bureaucratic and financial brick walls in Budapest. Here he flounders as his money runs out, contacts in London fail to act and hope evaporates as the vindictive forces of the Iraqi security close in.
Sadik carries with him secrets, but what they are and why he is running and the identity and role of the other characters we encounter and surmise from one sided telephone calls are only slowly revealed. This gives the whole film a delicious undercurrent of tension that steadily grows as the narrative progresses.
The plot is, in places, minimalist, leaving the audience to fill in the gaps but this is a plus as it lends time and space for the scenes that help give this film an intimate touch. An intimacy that enhances the hammer blows when the horror Sadik carries in his head and on the film in his pocket are revealed, one (real, found footage) clip at a time.
Beautifully shot with much hand held camera work and natural lighting we find ourselves close up and personal with Sadik, the sounds of his immediate environment providing the soundtrack.
A personal project, financed by the director, he says he was driven to make this, his first full length film. No CGI, no known stars and no budget for general or straight to DVD release, I would suggest that anyone who cherishes class, craft and content in their movies should make a point of seeing this film and then bang on about it to their friends until they watch it too.
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