Friday, May 07, 2010

We Miss Life

Read in the newspaper that “Son of Babylon”, that film made by Mohammad Al Darraji, that young Iraqi director with that marked lovable long hair would be screened in Baghdad in Semiramis cinema that Thursday (yesterday). The newspaper doesn’t say anything about the time, nor the internet. I found another newspaper stating that the film would be screened at evening. Well, then at evening. Thursday was a busy day for me and i needed to take a nap. I woke up at 4:30 p.m., hurry to take a bus to Al Saddoun Street and headed for Semiramis. I saw the door of the cinema closed and inside it was filled with broken chairs and other trashes. Oh no. i was about to ask a man about the film but imagined that he would laugh at me: “a film? Ahahaha, you are kidding?”

I was about to go back when thought about checking whether the cinema got another door. Walked to the other side of the street an found that there is an open door and inside there are many people, some holding cameras. At the door I asked the man with the camera: “when it would start?” and he answered: “it will end in few minutes, it has started at 4 p.m.”
“When they will re-replay it?” I asked and the answer came “will not be” as short as can be as a bullet. Well, I went walking like a …. Like a stupid in that big lobby, going round and round not knowing what to do….

I was hearing the sound of the film coming from that door and wondered that it is prohibited to go inside if you haven’t got the ticket. But men were going out and in as easy as every mess in Iraq and they were talking with a loud voice. So… I went in to see the last scene.

The voice was not understandable, of a bad quality. But I saw a young man and an old woman whom he calls grandma. The young man was holding a reed pipe and sitting with his grandma in the back of that car which was going away from the gate of Ishtar. The scene was nostalgic as it was showing the gate of Ishtar becoming farer and farer. The grandma died. The son started crying “grandma, grandma!!!”
The film ended.

After that Mohammad Al Darraji with another Iraqi director went up to the cinema’s stage and told us about the film and heard our questions. Of what they have told us was that this is the only working cinema in Baghdad, and that till yesterday night they didn’t have an audio sensor till 11 p.m. when somebody rescued them by bringing an audio sensor which worked but not that good. They apologized for us for the poor quality of the sound and told us that the film had been praised in some other countries for its audio management.

Then a young man came and started give CDs to people he selects. CDs on which there is some documentary about the film making. He didn’t give me so I headed for him and told him if I can have a copy. He refused. I offered money. He refused with annoyance and left me to continue distributing the CDs to what he said: “The Journalists”.

I went and took a seat. A young man who seemed confused came and was about to sit next to me, then looked at me as if to see whether I am threatening or not. “have a seat” I said and he sat while asking: “who are all those people? Are they artists?” he meant the people gathering in the lobby after the film had ended. “some are and got an invitation, some not, like me, who were not invited but came after hearing about the film play from the newspaper”….

and… when this…. Gonna end???” he asked.
“… you mean when they will go out? And what they are waiting for?” I asked
YES YES!!” he confirmed happily
Well, in a while, they are waiting for the journalistic conference” I said
“… it had already started above… there” and he pointed to the stairs.
oh… then i will go… pardon me” I said while going in the direction of the stairs
Come on… where are you going? What for?” the young confused man asked but i just waved my hand for him and went up stairs. I found the director and the actors making that conference. I stood about only 5 meters away but failed to hear a word from what they were saying. The journalists were very noisy and their microphones and audio system doesn’t amplify the sound at all.

Well, it was a few minutes opportunity to visit this old neglected cinema and to see the face of the director and actors. It was an opportunity to see that it is not understood for an average Iraqi young man that families like to attend cinemas to see some kind of films he might not heard of. A film that is followed by a conference. I forgot to ask that man about his work or why he was asking those questions but after all, I can understand why he was asking.
Thank you Mohammad Al Darraji and thanks for your team and we hope that this would be repeated cause we miss life my friend.
On my way back to home, it was an opportunity to see Baghdad late at evening, with all those tired face in the bus and the two frightened women who took the bus, but when see that it is dark inside and that men are looking at them chose to go out as fast as possible before the bus advances while the men were murmuring: “what is wrong?”


Bassam Sebti said...

I always enjoy reading your posts. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of what is happening in Baghdad!

When the film comes out on DVD, I'll make sure to save you a copy!


saminkie said...

Thank you Bassam for your nice words and for the DVD :)