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from the press

Koutaiba Al-Janabi's low-budget road movie, ...., a thoughtfully paced story of Saddam Hussein's personal cameraman Sadik (Sadik Al- Attar) seeking to escape to the UK, but haunted by the disappearance of his son. A challenging, provocative and controversial film, it is likely to find a home at other film festivals, and could well intrigue distributors. (Screen Daily)

Shot by Al-Janabi himself with a gnawing sense of urgency and paranoia, this is a chilling insight into the nightmare of having to live with the consequence of one's actions. First-time actor Sadik Al-Attar delivers an outstanding performance and his haunted look says as much about the later years of a monstrous regime as the newsreel Al-Janabi inserts in short bursts that seem to stab into the wretched runagate's tormented soul. The flight ends, somewhat predictably, in a dilapidated house in the Hungarian countryside. But the action still has the power to shock and provoke. (Empire)

The Hollywood version would have frantic car and train chases, squealing tyres, exotic locations, fast-cut action sequences and nerve-jarring music. Leaving Baghdad has no truck with such tricks. Its low-budget, slow, deliberate - except for the flashbacks to the police beatings and murders. (OneWorld)
Leaving Baghdad: Al-Janabi regarding Saddam Hussein's victims everywhere - the making of a new cinematic style. (Kais Kasim, Sweden, Senior Film Critic)

Leaving Baghdad provides a stunningly fresh take on the documentary form, mixing together a powerful character study of a man slipping into paranoia with a potent indictment on the trauma inflicted by Saddam Hussein's reign. (Raindance Film Festival)

These scenes make for both shocking and uncomfortable viewing, but where the film really excels is in the grim but real picture it paints of illegal immigration. Indeed, some of the best moments in Leaving Baghdad are those contemplative scenes where Al Janabi‘s grainy camerawork simply observes a vulnerable and isolated Sadik wandering the streets of Budapest, sleeping on railway verges or in cramped, anonymous apartment blocks on the city’s fringes, at the mercy of untrustworthy smugglers. (London Review)

Through a cinematographic form maintaining the beauty of the picture that goes deep into the soul of the character and the details of the story with a dramatic essence that expressed a human soul's search for self-salvation in the first place, Koutaiba Al-Janabi introduces his first long feature film with a sensitive, penetrating eye that uncovers the unknown and is able to remove all masking from the reality of what is within the soul. (Abu Dhabi International Film Festival web-magazine - Nadim Jarjoura)

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