What’s up Baghdad? from Baghdad with Love
This is not a film about bombs. in the end of article , you can watch the movie
This film is The Team of project story as well. the team behind the documentary, are also growing up and living in the same era as Mariam and Ahmed. They too see the world as an intertwined society filled with possibilities and are convinced that positivity and hard work can change environments.
They want to give the fellow Baghdadi youth a voice. A platform from where their positive actions can get acknowledged.
From Baghdad with Love
On the 24th of march 2014, after eight months of preparation, we were finally ready to travel to Baghdad for 10 days to set out on a research for a documentary, about other sides of the unique city that is Baghdad.
We left Denmark excited, nervous, anticipated and most of all unsure of what might be in store for us the next 10 days. When we reached Baghdad it became clear to us that we were on unknown territory. Back home people had tried to prepare us for the dangerous situations that we might face in Baghdad, which had left us in a quite worrisome state of mind. In my experience we were all very tense when we reached the airport in Baghdad. We feared our equipment would be taken away from us, minor deviations from our original plan resulted in panic and we were quick to become irritated with one another. However, as soon as we met our “fixer” or partner, Yousif, all that changed, and we felt as if a load had been lifted of our shoulders. Yousif radiated control and professionalism. He has a ton of opinions, and he likes to exchange different points of views. For that reason Yousif became more to us than just a “fixer”. Our conversations with him taught us a lot, and we had complete confidence in him.
Before leaving Denmark people had advised me to wear a Hijab for my own safety. In the car Yousif asked me if I was a Muslim, since I was wearing this. I explained my reasons to him, and he immediately told me to take it off. According to Yousif Baghdad should be a free city. For that reason I should not be wearing a piece of clothing that diverges from my own belief. I did not wear the scarf the rest of the trip, and I never experienced any problems with this decision. Later on Céleste told me that Yousif had been convinced that I was a Muslim since the scarf was tied so neatly. It actually made me kind of proud.
We were quick to become great fans of Baghdad, which mostly was due to the people living in the city. The generosity and hospitality we were met with was overwhelming. People opened up their homes to us and served luxurious meals. At restaurants people would fight over who should pay the check, and in the streets people would stop us and ask about our country and work. Many of the people also wanted to take pictures with us, and this openness and way of life stood as a great contrast to the Danish culture. One of our best experiences during our stay was the Mutanabi Street; a historical and cultural monument for all the inhabitants of Baghdad. The street is filled with bookstores, and every Friday lots of Iraqis get together to pursue different interests. We experienced older intellectual Iraqis discuss politics and art at the Shahbandar Café, we experienced a group of young guys discussing this weeks football highlights all wearing the same football shirt, and we experienced a political youth group fighting for an united Iraq. At this place we saw girls with bleached hair, boys with tattoos and the city of Baghdad containing as many different distinctions as any other metropolis.
Despite this obvious beauty of Mutanabi Street we could not avoid noticing the horrible tragedies that a country in war brings along. The owner of the Shahbandar Café would always sit in the front greeting all the people entering while having political and cultural discussions with all the regular guests. Yousif later told us that this man had lost his six sons in a bombing attack at this exact street. His six sons had all lost their lives right across from his own café at the beautiful Mutanabi Street.
All the people we met in Baghdad made a great impact on us. Among others we met Ziad Al Ajili and his wife, Amal Saqr. Ziad Al Ajili is head of the Journalistic Freedom Observatory, which fights for journalistic conditions and rights in Baghdad. Ziad is an amazing person, who spent a lot of time and energy making our stay in Baghdad much easier, despite the fact that he had just become acquainted with us. Meeting him and Amal was a life-changing experience, as their mutual relationship made a great impact on me. Ziad is secular, while Amal is a Muslim. A combination I did not expect to see in Baghdad, which of course stems from my own prejudices. They both radiated much confidence and life-balance, and I could not help thinking that many conflicts in the world could be avoided if more people adopted their tolerance and worldview.
Another experience that affected me deeply was a meeting with a dance teacher. Her passion was modern dance, and her great bravery did not fail her once. She had experienced some colleagues being killed, she had received death-threats, and she had now decided to emigrate Baghdad as it had become too much for her. Despite all of this she was not afraid to share her story with us.
Last but not least we have been deeply moved by the great amount of young people, who are going ato create the setting of this documentary. Each and every one of these youngsters have their own set of interests: music, art, social work etc., but they have found each other across different paths in life such as interests, education or religious background. They have given support to one another that is hard to find in other aspects of society. They have shown us that together they can create great things in life. They have shown us, that being a family means much more than sharing the same DNA. They have shown us that Baghdad has a bright future, if young people like these can lead the way.
We had a fantastic trip, where we were introduced to both the beauty of the city and the great challenges it faces. But we were also affirmed that the story, we would like to tell, is still going strong. The Swedish ambassador told us that she had just hired a man to search for the positive stories about Baghdad and communicate these to the people, because all the stories about car bombings and destructions are quite wearisome. There is indeed a demand for those positive stories that are also to be found in Baghdad.
From Baghdad with love…
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