"World Cinema: Israel"

My book, "World Cinema: Israel" (originally published in 1996) is available from Amazon on "Kindle", with an in-depth chapter comparing and analyzing internationally acclaimed Israeli films up to 2010.

Want to see some of the best films of recent years? Just scroll down to "best films" to find listings of my recommendations.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Jewish Community of Baghdad

Shadow in Baghdad is a compelling documentary film which tells the story of Linda Menuhin, an Israeli journalist who writes and reports in Arabic.  She grew up in Baghdad as part of the large and flourishing Jewish community there.  After the 1967 Six Day War, the situation of the Jewish community deteriorated and they lost all of their civil rights.  In the early 1970s, as a result of the strong arm tactics of Saddam Hussein's secret police, most of the community fled.  Linda ended up in Israel and her mother and siblings followed.  Her father, an experienced lawyer who didn't understand the dangers lurking in the shadows, remained behind.  There was an exchange of letters, and then, on Erev Yom Kippur in 1972, he was abducted and never heard from again. 

Like a detective story, this documentary film slowly uncovers details about the father's fate.  Linda is assisted in her search by a journalist in Iraq who has offered to help.  Together, they slowly unravel the family story through old letters which are examined, and family friends who are interviewed. 

Linda talks about her pride in being an Iraqi and her longing for the life that they had back in Baghdad -- the thriving community, the university atmosphere and the beautiful Arabic language. The director, Duki Dror, who himself is a descendant of Iraqi parents who were forced to flee Baghdad and rebuild their lives in Israel, says, "My parents' longing for their past life in Iraq was always strong."  This is a moving film about personal memory, about yearning for the place where you were born, about  being forced to flee your homeland and rebuild with a new identity, and it is the story of Iraqi Jewry in the contemporary period.  
The documentary film, Shadow in Baghdad (documentary, 65 minutes), is available from Go2Films.

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