forget baghdad — cinema village

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Date/Time: 05/12/2003 12:00 am

*** AFD Theatrical is proud to announce that our latest release, the award-winning documentary FORGET BAGHDAD, will have its U.S. theatrical premiere this Friday 5 December at New York’s Cinema Village!  Winner of a Jury Prize upon its premiere at the Locarno International Film Festival and a favorite at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, this timely project is sparking discussions the world over.   So don’t miss this unique opportunity! ***
Director Samir, the son of an Iraqi Communist who immigrated to Switzerland, reflects upon the cliches of the “Jew” and the “Arab” in Israeli and Iraqi society vis-a-vis the last one hundred years of cinema.  Traveling to Israel in search of his father’s former colleagues, he meets four fascinating Iraqis in exile.
The extraordinary result, FORGET BAGHDAD offers a rare glimpse into a community which is little-known but extremely important in light of the current Middle East crisis.  Those variously known as “Sephardis,” “Mizrahim,” or “Arab Jews” — that is, people of Jewish religion and Arab culture — have long found themselves caught between warring worldviews.   Uprooted virtually overnight at the founding of the modern Israeli state, many Sephardis lost first their homeland and then, with the escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, their very cultural identity.
Organized around the moving life stories of Shimon Ballas, Sami Michael, Samir Naqqash, and Moussa Houri — all former members of the Iraqi Communist Party — FORGET BAGHDAD reopens a lost chapter of Middle Eastern history.  The film also explores the at once painful and humorous stories of the younger generation, the sons and daughters of such Iraqi exiles — represented by the Iraqi-Swiss filmmaker Samir and Iraqi-Israeli-American film scholar Ella Shohat, both of whom grew up negotiating between two worlds in conflict.   In one particularly striking sequence, Shohat challenges the stereotyping of Sephardi Jews on a live Israeli talk show.
FORGET BAGHDAD employs a rich array of archival materials — British, Iraqi, and Israeli newsreels, Hollywood features (SON OF THE SHEIKH, EXODUS, and TRUE LIES), Israeli “Boureka” comedies (SALLAH SHABATI), and Egyptian musical-comedies — to explore its themes of disidentification and cultural essentialization.   At a moment when the United States remains at war in Iraq, and when peace in the Middle East seems more and more out of reach, this especially timely documentary offers a much-needed glimmer of sanity and hope.
In his “entertaining, ironic and visually stunning film essay, Samir creates a brilliant tour de force,” writes Deborah Kaufman for the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival; and the project “achieves a density of ideas and images that extend the boundaries of the documentary form” (Vancouver International Film Festival), fashioning a narrative at once “timely and thought-provoking” (VARIETY).
For more about the film, please visit: http://www.forgetbaghdad.com
North American distribution and sales: http://www.arabfilm.com
Cinema Village is located at 22 East 12th Street and online at http://www.cinemavillage.com
Take the N, R, 4, 5, 6 or L trains to 14th Street Union Square; the theatre is between University Place and 5th Avenue.
Showtimes are available online or by calling (212) 924-3363; advance tickets are available online.
FORGET BAGHDAD is in Arabic, Hebrew, and English with English subtitles and English narration.  The film is 111 minutes long.
*** THE SIGN OFF ***
Thank you for your continued support of under-represented cinema,
Arab Film Distribution
10035 35th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98125-7800
info@arabfilm.com | http://www.arabfilm.com