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Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 18:33 GMT 19:33 UK
Film gives Iraqis a voice
Iraqi men
The film features Iraqis cut off from contact with home
A film depicting the feelings of Iraqis living in Wales as the threat of war hangs over their homeland gets a first screening as part of festival of community filmmakers.

In The Picture is a showcase of films made under the auspices of Valley and Vale Community Arts and features subjects from ex-miners to domestic abuse, as well as the piece on Iraq.

Land of My Fathers - made in the period following 11 September - is a commentary on the political situation in the country as seen from the standpoint of Iraqi people living a long way from home.

Selma Chalabi, filmmaker
Selma Chalabi made the film with lottery money

Creator Selma Chalabi describes the 22-minute film as "quite emotional" in character.

"The way my relatives talk, and the way I talk in my narration shows how worried, anxious and possibly angry we feel at the moment," she said.

Little contact

Selma's father came to Britain to study in the 1950s, and after a brief return to his homeland, came back to Britain and married an Englishwoman.

Although her relatives in this country have made the decision to live in Britain and are not exiles in the political sense, they have had severe difficulties staying in contact with family members since the Gulf War in 1991.

"My relatives have chosen to live here, but they haven't chosen the situation in which they can't go back.

"Whereas before they could go back and visit, they have been cut off now," she explained.

Rabab Ghazoul
Rabab Ghazoul praised the film's insights

"I have an aunt and four cousins there. The way families in Iraq are surviving is having families outside the country sending them money."

Her father's brother died recently and he was unable to go to the funeral because of the difficulties getting into the country.

"In the film, I wasn't able to play around with this side of things - I didn't go much into personal histories.

"It was made with limited resources from community lottery money and is more of a commentary on the political situation," she said.

Rabab Ghazoul, an Iraqi woman living in Cardiff, praised what Selma has achieved in her piece.

She said: "One is living in a country which is also contributing to a lot of the suffering in Iraq - sanctions and bombing potentially as we know.

"To get this insight is fantastic and often moving."

Land of My Fathers will be shown on Thursday, 26 September as part of the In The Picture festival in Bridgend's Odeon Cinema.

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Selma Chalabi, filmmaker
"It shows how worried, anxious and possibly angry we feel."

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