1001 Nights in Fairfield

If you Suffer Injustice, Save Yourself
Leave Your House behind you to Mourn its Builder
Your Country You will Replace by Another
But for Yourself, You’ll Find No Other

Arabian Nights translated by Husain Haddaw

Fairfield, Sydney, is often referred to as “Little Baghdad” because of its large Iraqi population. 1001 Nights in Fairfield / الف ليلة وليلة في فيرفيلد was produced in collaboration with the Choir of Love through a residency with Powerhouse Youth Theatre Fairfield and STARTTS (Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors). The project engages with the politics of storytelling by loosely referencing Scheherazade’s struggle, in One Thousand and One Nights , to prolong her life by entertaining a murderous King with a series of inventive cliffhangers. The film combines documentary, imaginary sequences and improvised fictions to explore the pressure of telling a story to survive.

1001 Nights in Fairfield explores a “minor history” of Iraq. It combines well known stories from the book with real life stories from members of the Choir of Love, a choir established in Fairfield by Bashar Hanna to assist in the self organisation and cultural survival of recently arrived refugees from Iraq. Discourses on Iraq are often dominated by the War and perceived conflicts between “Islam” and the “West”. This film amplifies the voices of some of Iraq’s minorities, the Chaldean, Armenian, Assyrian and Syriac communities, many of whom live in exile. The music in the film comes from the Iraqi Maqam, a 400 year old musical tradition that emerged from the coffee houses of Baghdad. The Iraqi Maqam has a uniquely multicultural history that intertwines Iraq’s Jewish, Christian and Islamic communities and has been actively used by Iraq’s exiled people’s to tell alternative histories of Iraq.

1001 Nights in Fairfield is the 2016 winner of the Incinerator Art for Social Change Award, Melbourne, was a finalist for the LICHTER Art Award, Frankfurt, selected for the Melbourne International Film Festival; the Antenna Documentary Film Festival; chosen by Werner Herzog for the Rogue Film School, Munich, shortlisted for the Blake Prize (selected for the touring exhibition), Highly Commended Whyalla Art Prize South Australia and exhibited at Fairfield City Museum and Gallery, Sydney.

The film was produced through a residency at Powerhouse Youth Theatre, Fairfield in partnership with STARTTS (Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors). It was presented as part of the visual arts project Little Baghdad, in July 2015. Zanny Begg lives in Fairfield and worked with the Choir of Love for 12-months.

Music by The Choir of Love and Martin Al Summary
Camera: Josh Heath
Assistant Camera: William Robertson
Audio: Jon Hunter
Hair and Make Up: Wassan

In the News:

1001 Nights in Fairfield, refugee tales from the choir, The Australian, 09/12/2015; and Refugee story up for the Blake, The Fairfield Advocate, 09/12/15