Baghdad Twist
About IDFA
Baghdad Twist
IDFA 2007

Baghdad Twist

Joe Balass
30 min
World Premiere
Festival history
Director Joe Balass interviews his mother Valentine, a Jewish Iraqi who fled her native country in 1970, when Joe was four. We hear the interview in voice-over while old photographs and archive footage fill the screen: first of snowy Canada, where the family fled to, and then of Iraq in the 1960s. The conversation is personal ("Had I ever seen snow before?" the director asks), but also reflects the general situation of Jews in Iraq at the time. In an old TV broadcast, we see that Iraqi women wore Western clothing and worked for a living. Super 8 images show a Jewish wedding party in which people dance the twist with abandon. But after several political takeovers and the Iraqi leaders' repugnance to Israel's expanding power, life for the Jewish family became precarious. The son continues asking questions - hadn't they seen it coming? Shouldn't they have fled sooner? The mother answers with descriptions of fear and insecurity, and sometimes her memory lets her down and only fragments remain - like the details of photographs the camera focuses in on. "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end," Balass's mother softly sings, but she has forgotten the rest of the lyrics.
Screening copy
    National Film Board of Canada
    National Film Board of Canada
World Sales
    National Film Board of Canada
    National Film Board of Canada
Executive producer