A Film by Nissim Dayan.
Languages: Hebrew, Arabic.
Subtitles: Hebrew, English.
Farewell Baghdad Directed by Nissim Dayan; written by Nissim Dayan, Eli Amir, based on the novel by Eli Amir; with Daniel Gad, Igal Naor, Ahuva Keren, Uri Gavriel, Menashe Noy, Yasmin Ayun, Ron Shahar, Mira Awad, Makram Khoury
In “Farewell Baghdad,” director Nissim Dayan has undertaken an especially difficult task: not only to translate Israeli author Eli Amir’s novel, with its many plot lines and characters, to the screen, but to portray the end of an entire Jewish community – Iraqi Jewry, once the most ancient Jewish community of all. The fact that he pulls this off, despite certain weaknesses in the screenplay and film, is an admirable feat. In many ways, “Farewell Baghdad” is one of the most presumptuous Israeli pictures ever made, and I say this as a compliment. Few Israeli films to date have attempted an epic broadness; most, even those set in some remote past or location, have focused on a private story and used it as the basis for a broader statement about the surrounding collective. “Farewell Baghdad” does have a main character, 15-year-old Kabi, the son of a respected Jewish-Iraqi family. But the main protagonist is the community itself, out of which the movie projects specific characters and story lines. The fact that Dayan’s film goes from the collective to the individual instead of the other way around is both the source of its strength and the cause of certain flaws within it.
The year is 1950. Zionist activists within the Baghdadi Jewish community are persecuted by the Iraqi authorities, imprisoned and even hanged. Communists are likewise in the regime’s crosshairs. The Jewish community, which has deep social, cultural and economic roots in the country, is under constant threat of pogroms, and although some among them refuse to admit it, the Jews of Iraq become increasingly aware that their world is coming to an end.
"Farewell Baghdad" - or "The Dove Flyer" in Hebrew - is a new film based largely on the novel by the Israeli writer Eli Amir, who was born and raised in Iraq. He spent 13 years writing the book, which describes the life of the Jews of Iraq on the eve of the establishment of the State of Israel. What is unique about this film is that the actors speak almost entirely in the Iraqi Arabic dialects spoken by the Jews and Muslims of Baghdad.