Verlag Hoffmann und Campe 2004
A coproduction of ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation) and
DLR (German Radio) Berlin 2003
Awarded the Hans Nerth Prize in 2002
“For two wars and twenty years I have postponed my return.” Thus I began my travel journal at the Vienna Airport in Schwechat. “A third war is not going to deter me.”
The country where in 2002 I set foot for the first time since my childhood was an alarming sight. The gulf wars and the subsequent ten years of the UN embargo had immersed once-wealthy Iraq in hardship and misery. In Mesopotamia, the realm between the Tigris and the Euphrates, humanity’s earliest poetry, the epic of Gilgamesh, was composed, as was the Code of Hammurabi. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon flourished in the desert. But the land between the rivers is not only the cradle of humanity, it is also the region with the largest oil deposits on earth. That is not the least reason that the history of Iraq is marked by violence. My three brothers belong to a generation who began their adult lives as soldiers. They knew only war and had little hope for a life in peace.
A film documents my journey into the past. The footage was taken very hastily, usually without permission to film. This film remains a fragment, a once-in-a-lifetime document, for the world it shows became history on March 20, 2003.
The third war deterred me after all. I was unable to complete my film. It remained a fragment, as did the encounter with my family, my siblings, whom I saw only once again.
This is how the radio feature “Born in Baghdad” came about. The soundtrack of the unfinished film, along with the songs of my Iraqi friend Juliette Manssour, accompanies my “Reunion with Memory.” Someday I will return. I will see Mohamed, Sahar, Abdul Jabbar, Khaled, and Faten again. I will find my father’s house. I will eat masgouf on the banks of the Tigris and buy a necklace for my mother from one of the famous silversmiths at the Baghdad bazaar, as I promised her. I will continue what I began. Someday. Inshallah.
see also the film category: Baghdad Fragments