Another Day in Bagdad

SARA (40) hunches over her computer obsessively scouring the internet: How many dead today?  As her daughter sleeps fitfully against a muted background of mortars and gunfire, her mother scribbles numbers on scraps of paper and sticks them to a map of Baghdad stuck on the wall.  At least if she keeps track of the attacks she can try to predict where the next one may happen… Sara is a novelist but no matter how hard she tries, she cannot write any more. It would all just be a lie anyway. Maybe she and her daughter should leave this unlivable place, like so many others have? Yet everything that matters to her is here in this city and Reema seems alright; she tells jokes, plays tricks.  But Reema knows much more than she tells her mother… When Sara’s closest friend and neighbor, SABIHA, a former actress and a Christian, is forced into exile by a sectarian gang, Sara begins to fight back and recover a sense of defiance. But the random killing of Reema’s school bus driver causes Sara to re-think things and she starts to look for a way out… Sara and Reema’s story intersects with those of their neighbours: KAMAL, a former prisoner-of-war in Iran who is trying to erase the past, now drives a taxi to make a living; his pregnant wife MONA is the opposite, she can’t forget her children from a past marriage whom she is not allowed to see – just like her mother NERMEEN, whose son was ‘disappeared’ by the regime. DIJLA, Sara’s manic-depressive friend is always hunting for ‘happy pills’ while the pretty college student TAMARA keeps herself busy with music and fashion to distract herself from an unbearable reality. HAIDER, a teenager on the cusp of manhood, is being drawn into a sectarian gang as his father ABU HAIDER takes to the bottle, ignoring his son’s descent into sectarianism. YAHYA, Sara’s brother, has to choose between accepting bribes to stay in his job or leave the country. Each has a dilemma, a demon to struggle with… When Dijla’s handicapped brother is suddenly and senselessly killed, Sara’s world comes crashing down yet again. But a heart-to-heart confrontation with her young daughter finally enables her to break out of her paralysis and to reclaim her voice. And she begins to write again… At the same time, the other characters go through catharses of their own: When Mona starts to have her baby her mother snaps to and realises that she must live in the present; Kamal decides to help his wife re-connect with her children; Dijla tosses her ‘happy pills’ down the drain; Yahya chooses to quit his job; Abu Haider realises his son needs him more than ever and takes his hand.  Just before the New Year, as all wake to the news that Saddam Hussein has been executed, they are left in a state of heightened uncertainty. A car-bomb goes off... and then another.  And yet, like a miracle, each sustains a fragile hope.

Screenplay written by
Maysoon Pachachi and Rada Al Jabbouri