Salam Father

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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.



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reviews

"One of the best pieces of Australian- produced television to go to air this year"
- Media Week, James Manning, 27/09/04

"We welcome the return of the impeccable Who Do You Think You Are?"

- The Sunday Age

"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."

- Karen Hobson, Canberra Times, 13/04/98

"… is full of emotion,heartache,frustration and determination."

- Melville-Fremantle Community Newspaper, 14/04/98

"… essentially a story of courage"

- TV Extra, 12/04/98

‘The filmmaker creates a perceptive, multilayered understanding of the young refugees’ experiences’

- West Australian

‘Delightful’

- Sunday Times

‘It is hard to remain dry-eyed as the schools multicultural soccer team sings Advance Australia Fair in the bus home from a match.'

- Sydney Morning Herald/ Melbourne Age

"... 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."

- Tim Marsh, London Times.
"Delightful documentary"
- Sunday Times, 01/07/07
"A sweet sign off for a lovely series"
- The Age, Michael Idato, 02/07/07
…."it is the irrespressible humanity, and often hilarity, of the couples that makes DKS such honest and engaging television"
- West Australian, Philippa Perry, 04/07/07
“Real insight into a pressing problem” 
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- Daily Telegraph Pick Of The Week
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- Weekend Australian, Kerrie Murphy, 2 - 8/10/04
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- The West Australian, Sue Yeap, 07/07/98
"Unique footage" 
- Sunday Times, Bruce Butler, 01/03/99

"This is engaging and entertaining telly that also has something important to say"

- Sunday Age 04/01/09
"Engaging and entertaining telly that has something to say”
- Sunday Age
"...the most thought provoking, moving, entertaining and enlightening doco series in years"
- Wagin Argus 18/12/08

"Set in WA, this is one reality series we all should watch."

- West Australian 03/01/09

"Setting this documentary apart…is the effort it makes to humanise the poachers and explain the circumstances which compels them to hunt."

- West Australian, Mellissa Kent, 31/10/02
 "Televisual Gold"
- Lucy Belmont, The Age

"A dose of Reality TV without the hype"

- Weekend Australian, Simon Canning, 25 - 31/03/06
"A great concept"
- West Australian, Ara Jansen, 25-26/03/06

"All three groups of fishermen feature in Lobster Tales, an ABC documentary that will change the way you look at these delicious crustaceans forever."

- Sunday Mail, Brisbane 3/12/00

“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"

- Mark Naglazas – The West Australian Today 1/12/01

“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."

- CYCLOPS The West Magazine, The West Australian Newspaper 2/12/00

"shows ordinary people doing extraordinary things ... the program usues the magic of TV to bring an important WA story to life"

- West Australian, Keith McDonald, 27/06/02

“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."

- Jive TV Review, 23/11/10

“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…"

- Sydney Morning Herald, Doug Anderson

“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.” 

- West Australian, Sue Yeap

"This documentary never becomes bogged down in legalese and is a compelling tale of one family's devotion to their son"

- Sun Herald

"A remarkable story and a clever and affecting piece of storytelling"

- The Age

"An emotional journey...unflinchingly captured on camera"

- The West Australian

Koori queens proudly get out and about in this high-spirited and affirming documentary."

- Melbourne Queer Film Festival Guide

"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."

- Mark Naglazas, The West Australian Today

"Considering the double whammy served up by homophobia and racism, Sissy insists on having a good time while handling thought-provoking material."

- Mims McIntyre, Melbourne Times, 14/03/01,

[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.

- Louise Rugendyke, Sydney Morning Herald, 08/12/14

Filled with wit, warmth and revelations, Stairway To Heaven will intrigue even non-believers.

- TV Week, 12/12/16
This powerful documentary reveals a side to Shaun Micallef we don’t usually see - the Aussie actor and comedian is on a quest to find the very meaning of life itself... He is an inspiring host and an entertaining traveller.

- Sunday Mail Adelaide, Adelaide 15/01/17

"It's a compelling story and you made a compelling film out of it. Just terrific."

- Richard Walsh, Consultant Publisher, Allen & Unwin
“This is vital viewing for those that crave the whole truth”
- Ian Cuthbertson, The Australian
The Dreamhouse is, no mistake, a heart warmer and a tear jerker. But it's more than that... The Dreamhouse instead shows [the housemates] as people with abilities, flaws, hopes, desires and dreams the same as any of us
- Ben Pobjie, Sydney Morning Herald, 07/08/14
Every so often a TV show comes along that changes the way we think about others, about society, about ourselves. Positively, for the better and in a way that enriches the lives of everyone.
- Paul Kalina, The Age, 31/07/14
"It’s a fascinating insight into a world most of us never see"
- The Age Green Guide, Barbara Hooks, 10/04/03

"A fascinating insight into the world of the night"

- Canberra Times, 14/04/03
"A fly on the wall insight" 
- Melissa Kent, West Australian, 16/04/03

“Surprising, raunchy, hilarious, crazy! Expect the unexpected!”

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"Puppetry most certainly is an art from and some of the performances here will take your breath away"

- The Australian, Ian Cuthberston, 23/08/08

“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”

- Stanley Diamond, Montreal, Executive Director, Jewish Records Indexing - Poland, Inc.
Arguably its strongest line-up of celebrity guests yet
- The Daily Telegraph - Holly Byrnes 07/06/14

"...it's the most engaging detective series in years"

- Doug Anderson, SMH, 11/1/08

"... surprising, extraordinary and often moving" 

- Sunday Telegraph
"Outstanding, at times touching and very, very real"
- Sydney Morning Herald 5/10/09

"A compelling, lovely adaption of an excellent British format"

- Sydney morning herald- Sydney TV
"...is so elegantly simple it manages to compel almost without fail, never overstepping the human stories it is designed to tell..."
- Michael Idato - Sydney Morning Herald 20/12/10
"..utterly compelling.....revealed how powerful straightforward storytelling can be.... More please."
- Frances Atkinson, The Green Guide "The Rated , The Age 23/12/10
"...takes prominent Australians on an often complex, and sometimes unsettling, genealogical journey.... - has proven addictive t.v."
- Graeme Blundell -The Australian 18/12/10
“Their stories are revealing, sometimes shocking and always emotional”
- Feast Magazine 19/03/12

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- Melinda Houston – SMH, 25/03/12

“It's the perfect mix of history and celebrity..."

- Sunday Herald Sun, Melbourne , 01/04/13

"... this program has about it a quiet authenticity that allows the subject’s story to unfold of its own accord."

- Age Melbourne, 18/04/13

"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"


- Sunday Age, Melbourne Critic's Choice, 01/04/13

"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"

- Weekend Australian, Graeme Blundell, 06/04/13
This stylishly produced series is in fine form this season. Each episode combines the intimacy, and sometimes voyeurism, of observational documentary and the puzzles of the well-told detective story. It is a brilliant concept.
- Graeme Blundell The Australian, 25/08/15

This series is fascinating and so well done...
(pick of the week)

- Weekend Australian, Australia Lyndall Crisp - The Australia, 08/08/15
There are enough twists and turns here to make you think you’re watching an actual drama.
- Cameron Adams,Herald Sun, Melbourne, 25/08/15

"... explores the family histories of its subjects with class and humour. Verdict: A Hit." 

- Michael Idato, SMH, 31/12/07.

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