In the Sands of Babylon
Best Film from the Arab World/Narrative Competition-In the Sands of Babylon brings us into the furnace-like world of those that did not survive to tell their own stories. Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji’s previous feature Son of Babylon told of the journey of survivors in search of the missing. This time he gives voice to the countless innocent Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites who were tortured and murdered by Saddam’s Baathist party.
This prequel establishes the innocent who suffered as the voices that could have shaped Iraq’s future. In the midst of the Gulf War in 1991 Ibrahim, an Iraqi soldier, escapes from Kuwait as the army retreats. He now faces the dangerous journey home across the southern desert, the no-man’s-land between Saddam’s forces and the Americans. He is captured by the Republican Guard and cast into Saddam’s infamous prison, suspected of being a traitor. Behind prison walls there is an Iraqi uprising underway that gives hope to those in captivity.
The facts about Ibrahim’s journey emerge in 2013 when three survivors of the uprising share their past: a photographer with a painful secret, a farmer who hides his scars to forget and an ex-prisoner whose humanity was savagely taken from him. The past is hurled into the present as their memories take them back to the killing fields of Babylon where unspeakable crimes carried out against civilians lay buried in mass graves. This film is an undying search for the sons, daughters, husbands and wives who have become the countless missing pieces of a hideous puzzle that will never be completed.