The Silence of the Shepherd
The Silence of the ShepherdOriginal Title: Samt Al Rai
Director: Raad Mushatat
Iraq | Arabic
Thirteen-year-old Zahra lives in a village on the edge of the desert in the south of Iraq. She goes to fetch water one day and doesn’t return. Mystery surrounds her disappearance. Gradually, tongues begin to wag, and before the pride of the girl’s family comes into question, her father vows to find the answers. But the only person who already has the answer remains silent.
In an autocratic society, silence, unfortunately, becomes the main feature of life. It becomes the one sanctuary that individuals take shelter in, but when fear dominates and silence becomes a refuge, the fate of one becomes the destiny of all. While there is a political undertone to the story, and Mushatat alludes to it, he does not allow himself to be carried away by this dimension of the film, choosing instead to emphasize that nothing can weaken a society and strengthen abusive authority more than silence.
While most films from Iraq and the Arab world in recent times have focused on urban life, this film deserves a special mention for its choice of a rural backdrop. It is also worth mentioning that Mushatat has lined up an talented all-Iraqi cast and crew for his film, from among the top professionals living in as well as outside of Iraq.
—Intishal Al Timimi