The Liberace Of Baghdad (2004)
“A remarkable film that reveals everyday life post-Saddam” [The Times]
“I wanted to make a film about what liberation meant for ordinary Iraqis, but I got led astray when I met Samir Peter” – Sean McAllister.
Held up in a heavily fortified Baghdad hotel the pianist, Samir Peter and the film-maker Sean McAllister try to survive the “peace” of post-war Iraq.
Samir Peter, once Iraq’s most famous pianist now plays in a half-empty hotel bar to contractors, mercenaries and besieged journalists. In his heyday he described himself as the ‘Liberace of Baghdad’ but today he sleeps in a bricked up hotel room, too afraid to cross town to his 7 bedroom mansion. His string of western girlfriends has led to his wife and two of his kids leaving for the States.
But now Samir has a visa to live in America too, to find fame and fortune there is what he calls his ‘one last adventure in life’. But Sahar, his pro Saddam daughter hates America for what it has done to her country. She refuses to go and Samir is set to leave alone. Over 8 months of filming the violence escalates out of control, kidnapping is rife and Samir’s neighbour is murdered on her doorstep. Will Samir now sacrifice his American dream for the sake of his family left in lawless Iraq?
“Sean McAllister’s eye-opening documentary, which begins nine months after Saddam Hussein was ousted from power by American forces, tells the tale of Samir Peter, a formerly famous Iraqi concert pianist who is reduced to playing for just a few dollars a night to Western journalists in a Baghdad hotel… What started out as a quirky personal profile soon turns into an indictment of war as Peter’s mood, and that of the film, spirals downwards.” – © The Times
See a selection of reviews for The Liberace Of Baghdad
The Liberace Of Baghdad, BBC (2004)
Broadcast Premiere – UK, BBC Four, Storyville, January 25, 2005. Director Sean McAllister, Editor Ollie Huddleston, Photography Sean McAllister, Sound Sean McAllister, Music Samir Peter, Producer Sean McAllister, Executive/Co-Producers Mette Heida, Mette Hoffman Meyer, Nick Fraser, Production Company: Tenfoot Films, and Team Production
Awards and Nominations
Sundance Film Festival 2005 – Special Jury Prize (World Documentary), British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) 2005 – Award for Best British Documentary, Directors Guild of America (DGA) 2005 – Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary (nomination), Grierson Trust Awards 2005 – Nomination for Best Documentary On A Contemporary Issue
Quick film links
A Northern Soul / A Syrian Love Story / The Reluctant Revolutionary / Japan: A Story Of Love And Hate / The Liberace Of Baghdad / Hull’s Angel / Settlers / The Minders / Working For The Enemy