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by Salam Salman from Baghdad

Salam Salman Kuhler
Salam Yousry © Goethe-Institut

Salam Salman was born in 1977 in Baghdad, where he grew up. Salam completed his education and obtained his BA in Art from the Academy of Art in Baghdad in 2006. As a child growing up in Baghdad, he didn’t know much about the problem that his mother was a Feyli Kurd, but later on when kids knew he was from a Feyli background him and his brother were bullied for it specially his brother who had a Kurdish name.

Feyli Kurds were persecuted by Saddam’s regime from the 1970s until 2003. They were expelled, deported to Iran and exiled from their own ancestral lands in Iraq. More than 350.000 Feyli Kurds were deported to Iran, and around 15,000 disappeared; their remains have never been found. This process was part of a big campaign by the regime, which deprived Feyli Kurds of Iraqi nationality and considered them Iranians. They systematically executed Feylis in the beginning in Baghdad and Khanaqin in 1979 and later extended this to other Iraqi and Kurdish cities.
Salam explains that because his mother was lucky enough to have managed to change her papers, she escaped expulsion from the country.  As a child, Salam was puzzled by the many houses that were burnt and abandoned simply because their Kurdish inhabitants were forced to leave. He recalls how when he would go to a shop to buy something, he would pass by this abandoned area that looked as though it had been empty for many years with its houses burnt, windows broken and full of dust. This image has stayed with Salam until this very day. 

The film

The film is about the events in the 1990s, in which Saddam expelled many families from Iraq under the pretence that they were Iranians. Salam still remembers his Kurdish mother’s stories about the horrors, the loss and sadness from that era.
The film is about 90 minutes long and centres around a young boy aged 12 who searches for his mother because they were separated. He searches in prison and finds out that many people are in a similar situation. The premise of the film echoes the fear that Salam had as a child of being separated from his own mother. In those days, many kids were separated from their mothers, and men and young boys were taken and executed.
The film is still under development; its script is almost ready. It is rooted in historical reality, but Salam also incorporates imagination in the film.