Playing out as a troubling footnote to the massive destruction and chaos of the US led invasion and occupation of Iraq, “In My Mother’s Arms” records the efforts of local altruist Husham Al Thabe to sustain the shaky survival of a home for war orphans that he has set up for over thirty children. As he seeks them out in one of the worst slums of Baghdad, in a country vastly teeming with ruin.
There is much to be found in the film about the sorrowful plight of these children, along with resilience. And a population at the dwelling representative of all the long contentious ethnic divisions in the country. Including children of Sunni, Shia, Turkman and Kurd heritage. Which incidentally, the West engineered in its economically motivated, intentional historical carving out of this country in the first place.
Along with a tendency of this film, to blame the government for its failure to address the widespread problem of five million orphans, in a country of just over thirty million people. And who survive mostly by begging, while Husham runs the precarious do-it-yourself orphanage with small individual donations.
A documentary about street children without parents and a Good Samaritan who devotes his life to caring for them, needs little if anything in the way of evoking immense sympathy, other than to simply depict a dire reality that is already there. But there is much that is disturbing as well, about what is not shown and described, and which is quite the elephant in the room.
And that is the bleak irony of a situation, in which the perpetrators – in this case the coalition forces of the Netherlands and the UK as accessories to the destruction of Iraq – are now filming the scene of their crime, so to speak. And incredulously blaming the Iraqi government and its many services that they in effect annihilated, for not providing care for these children, while at the same time propagandizing for the virtues of privatization. Along with the occupiers doing so through a joint Dutch/UK company called, outrageously Human Film.
So what is in effect at work here – the remarkable dedication of Husham aside – is yet another entry into the cinematic annals of poverty porn. And where typically the West and its carpetbagger itinerant filmmakers, exploit the misery of the Third World they’ve likely had a part in creating and perpetuating, for fame and profit.
This raises a nagging question amidst all the disingenuous handwringing. Namely, that the financial resources from those culpable countries that went into making and promoting this documentary, would have served a far greater purpose by handing over the money to Husham and these orphans instead.
Iraq Al-Rafidan Films
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