Iraq, 2003 at the time I was preparing for my first film Ahlaam I was walking along Al-Rashid Street in Baghdad when I heard breaking news from a radio coming from a nearby shop: mass graves had been discovered near Babylon. I stopped cold at that moment, since I could remember fathers and sons of family and friends had disappeared over the years. No family unaffected and no one dare ask why. I thought about my aunty whose son had gone missing 15 years before. It took me about an hour to gather myself again.
The first mass graves uncovered in Babylon hundreds of thousands of bodies, yet in the wave of chaos and occupation that hit Iraq during this time the majority have remained unidentified and forgotten. There has been little retrospect and thus people still need answers.
Inspired by the relationship I shared with my aunt, the idea came for Son of Babylon to bind two generations, the older steeped in suffering; the younger bearing hope for the future. A mother’s search for her lost son; a boy’s journey to find himself and his father, each in the abyss I felt against the back drop of war and occupation as I struggled to comprehend the tragedy.
Over four years, day and night I prepared, wrote and cried whilst gathering the archival footage of what had happened. It’s not been easy for me to tell this story and it’s become much more than a film or piece of cinema to me and my team, it’s real and its aftermath echoes in the daily lives of those I love.