Iraq/England/France/Palestinian Territories/Netherlands/United Arab Emirates/Egypt, 2010, 90 minutes
Fri, Apr 23 / 7:00 / Kabuki / SON23K
Tue, Apr 27 / 12:45 / Kabuki / SON27K
Sat, May 01 / 6:30 / PFA / SON01P
The director of film festival favorite Ahlaam returns with this powerful tale of contemporary Iraq, a road movie across a land where roads, it seems, are the only things left intact. In 2003, after Saddam Hussein’s fall, a willful young boy and his even more obstinate grandmother set off from Iraqi Kurdistan to find the boy’s father, a political dissident, who they believe has been freed from prison. Hitching a ride with a chatty trucker, they move past American checkpoints into Baghdad’s ruined, still burning streets. From there they head south to prison towns, where grieving women shout the names of missing loved ones into burial pits or darkened doorways. Town to town they hear the same refrain: “A new mass grave has been found. Go there to look.” It’s a phrase infused with both sorrow and hope, as even within such tragedy there lies an unbowed humanity, glimpsed in the unexpected kindness of an ex-soldier or the boy’s dreams of seeing Babylon’s fabled Hanging Gardens. Furtively made on location in war-torn, frequently hostile envionments, Son of Babylon offers a fascinating and crucial vision of contemporary Iraq and its people’s continuing search for justice and closure (many of the film’s cast and crew were themselves political prisoners or activists, and lead actress Shehzad Hussein is the only woman to have testified at Saddam Hussein’s trial). With a humanism that recalls early Abbas Kiarostami, Son of Babylon confirms Al-Daradji’s essential commitment to portraying Iraqi life and rebuilding Iraqi cinema.
In Arabid and Kurdish with English subtitles. Presented in association with Arab Film Festival.