Crítica: Hiding Saddam Hussein
por Ola Salwa
- ¿Has escuchado alguna vez a alguien llamar a Saddam Hussein "su amigo"? Conocer a una persona así es una de las principales razones para ver el documental algo convencional de Halkawt Mustafa
Este artículo está disponible en inglés.
Hiding Saddam Hussein, the first non-fiction film by Halkawt Mustafa, who previously helmed fiction features such as El Clasico [+lee también:
entrevista: Halkawt Mustafa
ficha de la película], an Iraqi Oscar entry, retells the story of Saddam Hussein and his final days, as he was being harboured by Alaa Namiq on his farm. If anyone remembers the infamous footage of Hussein being dragged out of a hole, it was Alaa Namiq who dug it.
The film celebrated its MENA premiere, in the presence of the director and the protagonist, at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia, almost 20 years to the day after those very events took place. Previously shown at IDFA, the doc instils a considerable cognitive dissonance in the viewer, with its subversive topic clashing with a genuine and honest human story, alongside some fairly conventional storytelling. It’s an odd and chilling feeling to hear a man, now in his fifties, telling of how he became friends with one of the world’s most abominable figures. There is little doubt that the relationship was based on fear: as the story progresses, it becomes clear that Alaa Namiq actually admired his guest, and still does, as he honestly became emotionally attached to him. He recalls meeting Hussein and hosting him – according to local customs, a person never asks a guest how long they will be staying – and refers to him as none other than “president”.
Alaa Namiq mentions that, at the time, he didn’t know about the atrocities such as the mass killing of Kurds or Shia Muslims, but then again, now he does, and it hasn’t changed his opinion of his erstwhile guest... His testimony, which is moving in its honesty and matter-of-factness, is intertwined with reenactments of pivotal scenes from the time, plus archival footage that retraces the manhunt for Hussein. That mix provides a historical background but also creates a distance from the protagonist, whose presence is by far the doc’s greatest asset. The film is prudent as it drip-feeds us information, as if the director wanted to protect his protagonist from any potential attack. It’s difficult to establish its outlook, as it shies away from taking a specific political stance.
Hiding Saddam Hussein is critical of the US intervention in Iraq, especially in its latter parts, but there is a question it seems to ask involuntarily: was the war that overthrew Saddam worth the lives and suffering of Iraqi civilians – Alaa Namiq included? After all, he did end up in Abu Ghraib for several months.
This simply crafted documentary is definitely interesting and worth watching – mainly because of its protagonist – but an audience with a more in-depth knowledge of geopolitics may be left hungry for more.
Hiding Saddam Hussein was produced by Hene Films AS (Norway), and co-produced by Iraq’s Rudaw Media Network and Babylon Media.
(Traducción del inglés)
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