THE COLONEL’S STRAY DOGS

By Khalid SHAMIS

BIG WORLD CINEMA - as PROD

Documentary - Completed 2021

For over 40 years Ashur Shamis was Colonel Gadaffi’s enemy number one in exile with a $1m bounty on his head. His dream of a ‘free’ Libya almost cost him his life and his family. Ashur’s son uncovers a dangerous past and questions the choices his father made to inherit the mess Gadaffi left.

Festivals
& Awards

Hot Docs 2021
World Showcase
Encounters South African International Documentary Film Festival 2021
    • Year of production
    • 2021
    • Genres
    • Documentary, Historical, Second film
    • Countries
    • LIBYA, SOUTH AFRICA, QATAR
    • Languages
    • ARABIC, ENGLISH
    • Budget
    • N/A
    • Duration
    • 73 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Khalid SHAMIS
    • Producer(s)
    • Steven MARKOVITZ (Big World Cinema), Khalid SHAMIS (tubafilms)
    • Synopsis
    • When Colonel Gadaffi’s dream was made manifest in 1969, Ashur Shamis’ dream for Libya began. The founder members of the major opposition to Gadaffi in exile, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL), had a set of ideals that they tried and failed to implement over the dictator’s 40-year rule.

      Ashur's choices had a historical dimension but they also placed a nation against the intimate reality of a family. As a child his children would be watching Rambo in the lounge of their suburban London home while Ashur was plotting the overthrow of Gadaffi from his study. Khalid was 5 when he first saw his father on television, he knew it was him because he knew his voice, but his name wasn’t on the screen and his image was in silhouette.

      After Gadaffi’s demise - and more than 4 decades in exile – Ashur rushed back to the old country. He was resolved to work with the new government who found themselves mired in the politics of a power vacuum. While Ashur is away, Khalid, takes the chance to explore his father’s London study without him. Khalid uncovers remnants of a past he lived through but knew little about. Old cassette tapes sent to his father from his family in Libya contain messages of love, numerous passports, maps, books and newsletters on Libya.

      Because of his life outside of the country, Ashur wasn't trusted by the local Libyans and had to leave again in 2014; defeated by what the new country has become without him in the void of a dictator. Khalid takes the opportunity to question his father about the past and for the first time in his life, Ashur begins to reveal all.

      Ashur now looks back from his study. He’s back in the place in which he spent most of his adult life, working towards this freedom. Was it all worth it? The secrets, lies and espionage, the danger and absence, the constant threat of death around every corner.

      This is a story of a father and freedom fighter, absent to his family while dedicating his life to. A son who was distant from his father grows closer over the unfolding of history and the understanding of his father’s choices.