23 August 2008 consists of two shots. A brief opening shot, intercut with inter-titles, of the famous Al-Mutanabbi Street book market in Baghdad is followed by an unbroken eighteen-minute monologue, shot from a single, still camera position and simply recording the speaker’s words without interruption. In it, Faysal Abudullah gradually builds a portrait of his relationship with his younger brother, Kamel, and in the process evokes the lives of Iraqi intellectuals of the left, driven into exile in the early 1980s by Saddam Hussein’s regime. Faysal describes Kamel’s decision to return to Iraq in 2003, his work for the new Ministry of Culture and his tragic death at the hands of unknown assassins on 23 August 2008. While the film throws light on little known aspects of Iraq’s political history, primarily it is the story of the two brothers, of Faysal’s devotion to Kamel and their contrasting attitudes to exile and to life itself.
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Have you watched 23rd August 2008 yet? What did you think about it?