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"Koutaiba Al Janabi’s low-budget road movie, which had its world premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival, is a thoughtfully paced story of Saddam Hussein’s personal cameraman Sadik (Sadik Al Attar) seeking to escape to the UK, but haunted by the disappearance of his son. A challenging, provocative and controversial film, it is likely to find a home at other film festivals, and could well intrigue distributors.Leaving Baghdad (Al Raheel Min Baghdad) makes for sobering and challenging viewing and is distinctive with regards the brutal real footage used.(Mark Adams, Chief Film Critic, ScreenDaily)


Leaving Baghdad

Original Title (If different): 
Al Raheel Min Baghdad
Other languages or subtitles: 
Production country: 
Running time (In minutes): 
85 minutes
Arabic Films
Fiction Features
Student film: 
Leaving Baghdad poster
Production year: 
December, 2010
Film Credits
About the Director: 

Director’s Biography and Filmography
Koutaiba Al-Janabi was born in Baghdad. He studied photography and cinematography in Budapest, Hungary. Koutaiba directed and produced short films (“The Train”, “Still Life”, “No Man’s Land” etc.), documentaries (“Against the Light”, “Baghdadi Correspondent” etc.), television programmes.

Several of Koutaiba’s films won awards for his work as a cinematographer (Emotional Backgammon - a 35mm feature film, Easy Flying – a documentary, etc.) and as a director (Wasteland, The Ever Restless Man, etc.).

Koutaiba is also a successful stills photographer, with his photographs having been shown in exhibitions, published in newspapers and magazines and in a book “Far from Baghdad”.

“Leaving Baghdad”, the first feature length film for Koutaiba as a director was completed at the end of 2010, and is being circulated at film festivals.

The Hubert Bals Fund supported the initial development of “Night Trains”, Koutaiba’s second feature project, with a first draft of the script ready.

Film director: 
Koutaiba Al-Janabi
Koutaiba Al-Janabi / Hanna Heffner
About the Producer: 
Koutaiba and Hanna have been running Real Art Pictures Limited since 1998, based in London. They have produced several short films and documentaries and several projects are in development (Night trains - Feature film, Aisha - Feature film, Hotel Danube - Feature film. Leaving Baghdad is their first feature film.
Koutaiba Al-Janabi
Tigger White
Film photographer: 
Koutaiba Al-janabi
Zhe Wu
Tom Donald
Cast 1: 
Sadik Al-Attar
Cast 2: 
Rang Omar
Cast 3: 
Attila Solymosy
Cast 4: 
Jasim Al Timimi
Cast 5: 
Irma Kovacs
Film synopsis: 
Leaving Baghdad is a road movie that follows Sadik, the personal cameraman to the leader Saddam Hussein, at the end of the nineties. Sadik is trying to escape the grip of the regime, being pursued from country to country, encountering smugglers and crooks on his journey. Sadik suffers from paranoia and constant fear. The Iraqi secret police are after him because he is carrying evidence of the atrocities committed by the regime. Sadik is dreaming to go to London, to join his wife who is, however, unwilling to help. In his despair and loneliness, Sadik writes letters to his son, Semir. These letters turn into a confession and reveal Sadik's past and the real reason for his fleeing , the endless waiting and his paranoia.
Budget Range: 
Between $100 000 and $1 Million
Actual Budget: 
Technical infos
Technical infos
Original Film Format: 
Digital - other
Format Ratio: 
Film Sound: 
Video master available ?: 
Video Type: 
HDCam Digital Beta
Number of reels: 
Festival Selection, Awards...
Festival selection, awards or citation already received and other comments... :
Already selected in a Festival?: 
Festival selections: 

Dubai International Film Festival
Gulf Film festival

Film reviews: 
LEAVING BAGHDAD Directed by Koutaiba Al Janabi. Iraq. United Arab Emirates. UK. 2010. Leaving Baghdad is a feature film by the Iraqi filmmaker Koutaiba Al Janabi, who lives in London. He studied filmmaking in the Academy of Drama and Cinema in Budapest and made several short films often about the life of people living in exile. Shorts like The Train, Still Life and Wasteland. Shot in a minimal style with not much narrative, but strong characterization, a created atmosphere that sticks in your mind and a vivid eye for meaningful detail. Leaving Baghdad is a gripping story of a cinematographer Sadik ( Sadik Al Attar),who used to be the personal cameraman of Saddam Hussein. He is asked to film all the official events round the Iraqi leader, but eventually he ends up filming the tortures and sadistic games this power mad dictator demanded. We follow the man Sadik from close range, the whole film is seen from his point of view. He is played by the non actor Sadik Al Attar and he does this in a very convincing and real way. Often he is the only character in the scene, and Al -Janabi manages to keep the attention of the viewer from the beginning to the end. An impressive achievement. Sadik’s aim is to go to London, but he has no money and first he ends up in Budapest. Here he meets other Iraqi’s in the street and he has to deal with obscure men who ask 5,000 dollars to falsify his passport and promise him to go to London. Now and then short flashbacks of the Saddam tortures flash through his mind. Very briefly and effectively used in the film and never with the aim to sensationalize. Another strong point of Leaving Baghdad is the way the film is shot on HD in a crisp and involving way. It comes as no surprise that Al -Janabi is not only the director but also the director of photography in this feature. Shot on a shoestring, but you don’t notice that at all. In the beginning we see some shots of street life in Baghdad, shot after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Mainly old ramshackle cars in the streets, and it is a pity we don’t see a bit more of café’s ,shops, markets, houses from inside to get more of a sense how life really is like in Baghdad. Sadik, who looks very serious and slightly tormented, has to go to Budapest in order to get a visa and travel then to London. At the end of the film he ends up in a dilapidated house in the country near a farm. When he first enters the house there is a great Haneke (Cach) like sense of suspense, any time you expect something to happen. The ending comes as a shock, but that this strong and focused film will end badly you could sense during the entire film. In the credits Koutaiba Al -Janabi dedicates the film to his late father, this gives the film even more value and depth. So far Leaving Baghdad has been elected for the prestigious Dubai International Film Festival and had a positive review in Screen International. Jaap Mees (editor Skrien, Dutch film magazine)
Film distribution
Publicity Infos
Publicity contact: 
Hanna Heffner
publicity address: 
7 Tavistock Terrace London N19 4BZ
Publicity contact email: 
Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)


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