“England’s a dying man.” Samir’s first words as he looks down the noisy Victoria Line train. We are heading to my house in Brixton. I’ve just picked him up from Heathrow airport.
After 12 long, hard, weeks slogging away at reams of rushes, juggling shots and sequences with the mighty editor of editors, Mr Ollie Huddleston, I have finally finished the film and am premiering it at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival (SIDF). The edit was easier than usual, me and Ollie somehow found the film quite quickly. It is thanks to help from friends like Johnny Burke who spent a couple of weeks with me viewing the 100 odd tapes and talking over what it was we wanted, liked and loved with Samir.
It is so strange to see Samir again, and to see him in England. He looks so disappointed. “You know Sean, we are so lucky in Iraq aren’t we?” Samir is looking round the crammed tube. Glum faces stare back at him aimlessly. Samir spots a young girl and his face lights up. We pull into Brixton and join the mad rush off the train, before long we are pushing and heaving to get onto the number 2 bus. No seats. We prop each other up. At home Samir is exhausted, out of breath, looking for a cigarette. “No smoking in the house” I point out. He looks at me and smiles, “Sean, if I die here in England, please make sure you get my body back to my family in Baghdad.”
He stands shivering on my cold English doorstep drawing on his fag looking down the street. I watch him thinking for a moment. It is difficult to imagine that Samir had driven past Fallujah a day earlier, missing the American attack on the city by a few hours. He has no idea that tomorrow at the World Premiere of the film in Sheffield he will be Liberace for the day. The Liberace of Sheffield is on his way.