Tracing the emigrations of his family over more than half a century, this riveting 3D documentary epic from acclaimed expatriate Iraqi filmmaker Samir pays moving homage to the frustrated democratic dreams of a people successively plagued by the horrors of colonialism, dictatorship, war, and foreign occupation.
While there are no precise statistics, it is estimated that four to five million Iraqis live outside Iraq today. Award-winning filmmaker Samir was born in Baghdad and has lived in Switzerland since he was child, while the members of his extended family are scattered all over the world — Abu Dhabi, Auckland, Sydney, Los Angeles, Buffalo, London, Paris, Zurich, and Moscow — with only a handful remaining in Iraq. Recounting his family’s stories of departures and uprootings, in Iraqi Odyssey Samir also chronicles how Iraqis’ dreams of building a modern and just society after their nation achieved independence in the 1950s were brutally dashed over the course of half a century.
Loosely organized in three acts, the film begins with Samir’s grandfather and his role in the struggle against British colonialism. The second act traces the successive waves of emigration as his relatives sought safe havens around the globe to escape from the series of coups and counter-coups in the 1960s and 1970s that resulted in the establishment of Saddam Hussein’s three-decade dictatorship over the country. Saddam’s deposition by the 2003 US invasion, and the iconic image of his statue being toppled in Firdos Square, signals the film’s final act, and the last tale of departure.
Weaving together the ironic, wistful, and witty testimonies of Samir’s relatives with rare documents from private and state archives, Ottoman film footage and 3D technology, Iraqi Odyssey is a riveting epic that creates a genuine people’s history of Iraq, at once humble and majestic.
Shedding a new light on a grossly misrepresented country, Iraqi Odyssey is the veteran director’s most personal, ambitious, and accomplished feature to date.
— Rasha Salti, Toronto International Film Festival
“A personal, insightful and beautifully made film…I was spellbound in front of the screen.”
— Huffington Post
“Straddling a telling of his generously-sized family’s history and that of Iraq, Samir’s aptly named film is nothing short of epic.”
— ReOrient Reviews
“An impressive amount of archival material, nicely edited and accompanied by appropriate music tracks, acts as both family album and chronicle of a lost world.”
“Iraqi Odyssey takes 3D where it usually doesn’t go. It’s a mesmerizing hi-def film about the history of an impressive people.”
— People’s World
“Iraqi Odyssey is a documentary of one extraordinary Iraqi family whose tale is all the more remarkable because it is so common.”
— Epoch Times
Freiburger Filmforum 2015
Arabische Filmtage Tübingen 2015
Duisburger Filmtage 2015
Silk Road International Film Festival 2015
CIFF Cairo International Film Festival 2015
JIFF Jerusalem International Film Festival 2015
BIFF Bergen International Film Festival 2015
NZIFF New Zealand International Film Festival 2015
EIDF EBF International Documentary Festival South Korea 2015
Black Nights Film Festival Tallinn 2015
Beldocs Belgrade International Documentary Film Festival 2015
Biografilm Festival Bologna 2015
BAFICI Buenos Aires 2015
Arabiske Filmdager Oslo 2015
Vilnius International Film Festival IFF 2015
Beirut Cinema Days – Ayam Beirut al Cinema’iya 2015
Solothurner Filmtage 2015
Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin 2015 – Berlinale Panorama, Dokumente
Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage 2014
São Paulo Mostra Cinema: Oriente Médio 2014
ADFF – Abu Dhabi International Film Festival 2014
Zurich Film Festival – Work-in-Progress Special Screening 2014
Festival do Rio 2014 – World Panorama
TIFF – Toronto International Film Festival 2014