I’m a filmmaker of Iraqi origin with deep roots in that country and, at the same time, I am a Londoner who has lived in the city for almost all of my adult life. I often feel like a person whose home is on a bridge with a view of both sides of the river.
Iraqis have lived through decades of dictatorship, war and sanctions and since 2003, ongoing extreme daily violence and chaos. Their lives are ruptured and full of loss, with no breathing space to process and repair. This is the emotional context in which people get on with daily lives in a situation where the unthinkable has become the norm, where you have to ‘act life’ as people in Sarajevo used to say. The powerful external circumstances affect everyone and create a sense that you are living a story that is at the same time individual/personal, and collective. Me and my co-writer, Irada Al Jabbouri, an Iraqi novelist living in Baghdad, were interested in finding a fictional form which would reflect this experience.
Our film is like a Persian miniature where - in every corner of the picture space - individual stories with their own trajectories are being lived simultaneously; individual, but connected, and together, describing a collective drama. How you tell the story is part of the story.
I am interested, not so much in what happens but in what we as human beings do with what happens. When the world inside and outside us is fragmenting, how do we keep a sense of our self and our story, how do we hold our life together? How do we survive psychically, emotionally? Where do we find the will and the courage to resist the damage and renew a fragile sense of hope every morning? Can we be true to our values and beliefs? What do we tell our children? Can we retain any sense of community? How? This is what this film is about.
“Another Day in Baghdad” was in part inspired by dialogue and scenes, which I and my co-writer, Irada, heard and saw in Iraq in 2006/7 – Using this real-life source material as a springboard, we created our fictional narrative, making the feelings of our characters present in the way that drama affords, while at the same time, trying to express the energy, danger and chaos of the wider reality in which they live.
The time of extreme sectarian violence in which our story takes place foreshadows what is happening in Iraq and the Middle East at the moment. We feel that it’s especially important now for stories of individual resistance and hope to be told about the area, where so many still maintain solidarity with one another as human beings, in spite of the intensely divisive pressures of religion and politics, with which they are living. We also feel that in the context of the extreme militarized male violence we are seeing in the Middle East, it is crucial to have stories told from a female perspective.
- Maysoon Pachachi