28 July 2015 | Red-125
A movie that I'm glad I saw!
Farewell Baghdad (2013) (The Dove Flyer) was written and directed by Nissim Dayan. This movie portrays a chapter in Jewish history about which I had no knowledge.
The Jewish community in Baghdad had existed for more than 2,000 years. In 1950 and 1951, all the Jews in Baghdad were forced to leave. Hundreds of thousands of Jews left for Israel. They didn't want to leave their home, and many of them simply couldn't believe they would be forced to leave Baghdad. They believed they were an essential part of Iraqi society, and they probably were. Nonetheless, they did leave. The volunteer who introduced the film said, "Today there are no Jews in Iraq."
Daniel Gad stars as Kabi, a 16-year-old boy who has no concept of revolution, Zionism, or Communism, until he is confronted by all of these. Yasmin Ayun plays the beautiful Rachel, the young wife of Kabi's uncle. Tawfeek Barhom plays Adnan, Kabi's friend. (We had already seen Barhom in his starring role in "A Borrowed Identity," which I reviewed recently for IMDb.)
Anti-Semitism was a driving force in the expulsion of the Jews from Baghdad. However, some Jews were Communist revolutionaries, and some Jews were Zionists. As far as I could tell, the Zionists just wanted to get other Jews safely out of Iraq. I wouldn't call them revolutionaries. However, it's possible that the Iraqi government didn't make these distinctions.
The problem I had with this film is that it wasn't always clear to me who was hiding the rifles, who was trying to arrange for Israeli planes to take the Jews to Israel, and who was being imprisoned and why. I'm sure that an Iraqi--Jewish or Muslim--would know the answers to these questions. I have to admit I wasn't always certain about what was happening.
Unfortunate as that was, I still enjoyed this film because I started with no knowledge of the history of Jews in Iraq. When the movie was over, I had both a sense of what happened, and a sense of the misery endured by the people who were forced to leave. The film was both very informative and very dramatic, and I'm glad I saw it.
We saw this movie in Rochester's Dryden Theatre, as part of the highly acclaimed Rochester International Jewish Film Festival. It will work well on the small screen.