On the midnight of 12th of April 2007, at his home in suburban Perth, 31-year-old Salam Ziusudras receives a phone call from Iraq. He’s told that the remains of his father have been found in a mass grave in central Iraq. Why and how they ended up there, nobody knows.
When Salam (Sam) was just five his father simply vanished. That’s all Sam knows about him. The rest is a mystery; hidden; too difficult to talk about. But now a 1000 questions scream for answers. What happened to his father? What did he do? Who was he? And is this the reason Sam and his family have, for the last 26 years, lived as refugees?
With just sketchy details from his mother who pleads to forget, Sam embarks on the journey of his life desperate for answers. From Australia to Sweden and Iraq a world of underground politics, intelligence organisations, friendships and betrayal begins to reveal itself. Sam’s father is more than Sam ever thought he’d be.
1982. Saddam was in power. Sam’s mother, Mey, was thrown out of her house and her country by Iraqi security forces about a month after Sam’s father disappeared. She was left with nothing but her 3 children – the eldest being 5 year old Sam. Mey’s first country of refuge was the very one Iraq was then at war with – Iran. About 20 years later their search for a permanent home finally ended when they stepped off a boat in Australia.
To find out what caused these events Sam’s mother could only give him one lead; there’ an old friend of his father’s who now lives in Sweden. Sam flies to Stockholm and learns his father was an educated, respected and prominent member of his community. But it’s the news that his father held a prominent position in the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) that shocks Sam the most. Saddam had outlawed the Communist Party and any member was considered an enemy of Iraq. Spies and informants were commonplace. Sam’s Swedish contact believes Sam’s father was betrayed by a work mate who secretly worked for Saddam’s regime. The only place to learn the truth however, is in Iraq.
The journey to the land of his birth reveals more than Sam ever imagines. A visit to relatives he cannot remember takes him to a treasure chest. His father, it turns out, didn’t have everything taken by Saddam’s regime. Boxes of photos and super 8 footage shot by his father (who Sam learns was a keen filmmaker) have been kept in a relative’s garage for a quarter of a century. He finally begins to understand who he is and where he’s come from. Outside war continues to rage. But Sam must still search for answers – why was his father killed?
Sam finds many theories. Could it be politics, or was it that his father was Kurdish? Another theory is that his father had Iranian roots – or was he simply a victim of greed and corruption?
So many questions – so much to discover, but it’s the family that he’s re-united with that prove to be the biggest revelation. Sam’s mum, Mey, returns with Sam to Iraq and re-connects with a family she’s not seen for over a quarter of a century. There’s so much healing to do and so much love to catch up on – all in the midst of war zone. And Sam, while searching for his father, actually finds a family.
"We welcome the return of the impeccable Who Do You Think You Are?"
"A documentary that confronts, questions and raises many issues:medical ethics,personal choice and funding priorities - but none more so than the rights of the disabled, and of a mother and father."
"… is full of emotion,heartache,frustration and determination."
"… essentially a story of courage"
‘The filmmaker creates a perceptive, multilayered understanding of the young refugees’ experiences’
‘It is hard to remain dry-eyed as the schools multicultural soccer team sings Advance Australia Fair in the bus home from a match.'
"... already acknowledged as the world's most exciting visual and physical theatre company...the reason to go and see Stalker is the way they marry jaw dropping spectacle with real purpose."
"This is engaging and entertaining telly that also has something important to say"
"Set in WA, this is one reality series we all should watch."
"Setting this documentary apart…is the effort it makes to humanise the poachers and explain the circumstances which compels them to hunt."
"A dose of Reality TV without the hype"
"All three groups of fishermen feature in Lobster Tales, an ABC documentary that will change the way you look at these delicious crustaceans forever."
“The great achievement of Lobster Tales, a delightfully oddball WA-made documentary on the lucrative local crayfish industry ... strikes such a lovely balance between the lobsters and fishermen that it’s more like a well-wrought tragi-comedy than a traditional nature doco"
“Even for non-lobster-lovers, this quirky feature provides plenty of interest ... the highlight is the underwater photography by Leighton de Barros which is up-close and stunning."
"shows ordinary people doing extraordinary things ... the program usues the magic of TV to bring an important WA story to life"
“Though it’s not easy to watch a widow finally open up about her murdered husband (nor is it comfortable watching local Iraqis genuinely praise Saddam Hussein), Salam Father is yet another reason why the terms "SBS" and "quality documentary" fit like a hand in glove."
“A sense of reconciliation emerges in the program and there's considerable poignancy as elements of a family torn apart by war, politics and circumstance are reunited…"
“This is the compelling story of a family torn apart by war, envy, corruption and greed and how a quest for answers also helped heal old wounds. It might also help people look beyond the descriptions "refugee" and "asylum seeker" to see the person and their story…A powerful piece of television, made more authentic by Ziusudras' first-hand narration of this tale.”
"This documentary never becomes bogged down in legalese and is a compelling tale of one family's devotion to their son"
"A remarkable story and a clever and affecting piece of storytelling"
"An emotional journey...unflinchingly captured on camera"
Koori queens proudly get out and about in this high-spirited and affirming documentary."
"We get a rare glimpse into the world of indigenous gay men in tonight's Sissy ... an energetic, inventive and occasionally touching Western Australian-made documentary that looks at the lives of three colourful drag queens."
"Considering the double whammy served up by homophobia and racism, Sissy insists on having a good time while handling thought-provoking material."
[Shaun Micallef’s] quest to discover if there is ‘‘greater purpose than being a semi-professional Australian TV personality’’ makes for a funny and watchable journey.
Filled with wit, warmth and revelations, Stairway To Heaven will intrigue even non-believers.
"It's a compelling story and you made a compelling film out of it. Just terrific."
"A fascinating insight into the world of the night"
“Surprising, raunchy, hilarious, crazy! Expect the unexpected!”
"Puppetry most certainly is an art from and some of the performances here will take your breath away"
“I have been directly or indirectly involved in WDYTYA productions in the U.S., Canada and the U.K …I must say that this one [Andrew Denton's episode] of the very best I have seen”
"...it's the most engaging detective series in years"
"... surprising, extraordinary and often moving"
"A compelling, lovely adaption of an excellent British format"
"One of the reliable pleasures of this series is just how great it looks. The production values are always first-class and wherever we are in Australia or the world, you can't quibble with the scenery. Who Do You Think You Are? is about much more than looking pretty, though, blending history and biography to create a package that's accessible, entertaining and educational. (FOUR STARS)"
“It's the perfect mix of history and celebrity..."
"... this program has about it a quiet authenticity that allows the subject’s story to unfold of its own accord."
"The series is more than a peek into the backgrounds of the famous; it also chronicles the social and cultural evolution of our national identities via these celeb family histories. 4/5 stars"
"Each episode is essentially a feature documentary, well-researched and produced, and presented usually with a humorous or deeply emotional touch... This show is seriously habit-forming"
This series is fascinating and so well done...
(pick of the week)
"... explores the family histories of its subjects with class and humour. Verdict: A Hit."