Brave beyond measure with a tremendous faith in family, friends and the kindness of others, Remember Baghdad is a highly recommended documentary film that goes someway to banishing assumptions about a Middle Eastern region tarred with a singular brush.
There are touchstone moments peppered throughout Fiona Murphy’s educational documentary which will open your eyes. Affluence, political unrest and religious segregation have influenced how others view Baghdad for decades. Occupied by the English twice, taken over by military regimes and not unfamiliar to sovereign rule, Baghdad has had a chequered past. Murphy charts this with knowledge, tenacity and understanding as she expands on preconceptions, hoping to banish assumptions about a Middle Eastern region tarred with a singular brush.
Using numerous eyewitness accounts of key moments in Baghdad history, we get an unbiased opinion garnered from Iraqi Jews drawn from personal experience. For anyone unfamiliar with the Israeli-Iraqi conflict from beginning to end, Remember Baghdad will educate you. Employing stock footage, home movies and talking head testimonials, Murphy gives us a rounded opinion without colouring conclusions.
Starting with the occupation of Baghdad in 1917 and ending up in 2016, this shows a city and country of unwavering potential, hamstrung by religious doctrine. Touching on the Six Day War and Suez crisis, alongside world events including Palestine’s partitioning, Murphy gives us a balanced opinion piece. Stories of persecution, manipulation and barbaric savagery go hand in hand with times of prosperity, harmony and brotherhood. It makes this documentary a double edged sword for those wishing to form opinions of their own, in a country where belief more than anything is shown to divide brother from sister, father from son and uncle from aunt.
Bookending the documentary with a physical act of resettlement from an Iraqi Jew, director Murphy instils a sense of rejuvenation, hope and faith in an uncertain future. There’s fascinating, if brief, detail surrounding the Nazi involvement within Baghdad prior to World War II, showing historical missteps that would have been catastrophic yet also giving the financial reasons why Iraqi Jews stayed behind even when they knew it was unsafe. It highlights a stubborn but understandable resilience. It goes some way to making Remember Baghdad more the historical document rather than informative documentary. Focusing on the human interest element which is inherently linked to Baghdad’s affluence and decline, Murphy makes a potentially dry subject very engaging.
Financially shrewd, brave beyond measure with a tremendous faith in family, friends and the kindness of others, Remember Baghdad comes highly recommended. If however you are happy to languish in ignorance and bigotry be my guest.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Fiona Murphy
Written by: Kitty Kaletsky, Fiona Murphy
Starring: Edwin Shukar, David Dangoor, Eileen Khalastchy, David Khalastchi, Esperance Ben-Moshe, Salim Fattal, Danny Dallal, David Shamash
Released: 2017 / Genre: Documentary
Country: UK/Iraq/Israel / IMDB
Remember Baghdad was released in UK cinemas on November 17.