Iraqi-Dutch filmmaker Mohamed Al-Daradji returns to the Festival with this tense and provocative political meditation about a would-be suicide bomber and the fast-talking train station attendant she takes hostage.
On a night in December 2006, a young woman, Sara, enters Baghdad Central Station. Whether she will leave alive becomes the central drama of the latest film by renowned Iraqi filmmaker Mohamed Jabarah Al-daradji (whose In My Mother's Arms screened at the 2011 Festival).
Sara (portrayed with a riveting stoicism by newcomer Zahraa Ghandour) has made the decision to weaponize her body in a suicide attack. But this becomes complicated after her intentions are discovered at the station by the fast-talking and flirtatious Salam (Ameer Ali Jabarah). Committed to going through with her plan, Sara takes Salam hostage, though the limits of her own agency soon come into question. Bound together in this state of fear and confusion, Sara and Salam are forced to examine their beliefs — from radically opposite sides of politics and society.
Solely set in the station and its environs over the course of a day, the film employs a huis clos set-up that provocatively mirrors contemporary Iraqi society while positing the complex question of how hatred is born upon us.
Filmed on location in Iraq's capital, The Journey unfolds with a gripping intensity. In a time of political turmoil, it fearlessly eschews sensationalism in favour of interrogating the limits of humanity.