Opening 24 Sep 2015
Director Samir (he goes by his last name only) has the advantage of a Swiss mother and an Iraqi father. He can film about life in Iraq, knowing that Switzerland will open its borders to him in case he needs to leave Iraq for whatever reason. In 2002 he made Forget Baghdad: Jews & Arabs: The Iraqi Connection. This new documentary Iraqi Odyssey played in the Panorama Section of the 2015 Berlinale.
During the festival’s Q & A Samir said, that after having written extensively about Jews and Arabs in Iraq, it was only logical to look at his own family, which is quite representative of the Iraqi diaspora spread all around the world. Samir said that there are four million Iraqis living abroad. He pinpoints the U.S. invasion of Iraq on April 5, 2003, when “looting started and people used religious slogans to gain power.” He mentions the conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims. This becomes most interesting when he presents various family members, of which there are many: a grandfather with seven children (his five uncles and two aunts) and their 20 children (his cousins). He has six siblings. He shows their lives in Iraq, France, the USA (Buffalo New York), Russia, England, Switzerland, etc.
This film is especially interesting for anyone who has left his/her native country for whatever reason. And, naturally, it is especially pertinent, now that Europe is dealing with thousands of refugees from Arab countries. Many of us are personally confronted with these refugees in our towns, even in our own neighborhoods. Many of us have volunteered to help the flow of refugees in various capacities. (Becky Tan)