Oh how we partied, like little children on holiday, or more like a rock band on tour. It didn’t take long before everyone knew ‘the Liberace entourage’ had arrived at Sundance. I was making a video diary for BBC 2’s ‘Culture Show’ so I brought my friend Johnny along to film it. Samir of course was there, Ollie, the editor and co creator of all my films was there too, also Andy and Nick my mates from Hull who’d come for free parties, wine and women.
And so we partied in abundance, usually 3 a day, all with free bars wine and women, such was our interest in the films. The place was surreal, especially for Samir who looked on with wide open eyes taking in American culture for the first time in his life. For me I kept thinking of Iraq, of Baghdad, of the strange messed up place I’d left many months ago only to find ultimate success here at Americas top film festival. It was a privilege and I was proud, and so happy for Samir. He was proud, but after travelling so far, (nearly not getting there due to the racist security men in London Airport) he was now intent on only one thing, winning the international competition.
We had four screenings over 10 gruelling days. We had employed publicists who were working us hard with lots of newspaper interviews, tv and radio.. on the first day we did live a breakfast tv show and Samir announced he’d killed a man in the Iran war, the interviewer went quiet and they showed a clip from the film. All media stuff is supposed to be very glamorous but its dull in reality. But I must not complain, we seek this sort of thing all our lives then it happens and we moan. I made a point of never moaning about it and always looked forward to the next free bar. Sleeping was tough with 7 in one room and only 2 beds. Samir soaked up all the attention from young girls at parties, he was the ageing rock star and lasted the course well. He was always on the dance floor, occasionally topless, never failing to try and impress some young admirer.
Then it suddenly ended with an awards ceremony. I was cool but Samir was anxious. I got angry with his desire to win. I was just happy to be there, one of only twelve films chosen from the world for competition. Amazing. But no, he insisted on winning. Then we arrive and we are asked to sit at the end of the row.. the publicist had heard good things, he said to start preparing a speech.. I was now anxious and Samir speechless. I drank red wine and began to think. The Liberace entourage would keep nipping off to fill up my glass. I couldn’t remember all the thank-you’s, then I looked around the vast place with huge screens off the stage all over the place. I just couldn’t imagine going up there. Before long it had begun and it didn’t take long to hear that The Liberace of Baghdad had won a ‘Special Jury Award’.. There was a cheer and we were on our feet making our way to the stage, making a speech, holding each other up, and hearing the crowd laughing. Samir was moaning to them that I had brought him thousands of miles from his home to talk to people he didn’t want to talk to.
At the back stage party Samir and I held each other, he wanted to cry, he said he was so happy, not for him but for me. He could see how happy I was to have won and it made him happy and proud to have given himself to the film. “We’re more then friend’s” he said, “We’re like brothers now.”