When Adnan Comes Home
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A feature-length documentary by Andrew Berends

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Thursday July 27, 2006
8:30 - Live Music by Basya Schecter (click for details)
9:00 - Showtime
TRT: 1:13:15

The Roof of the 14th Street Y | DIRECTIONS
344 E. 14th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, East Village, Manhattan

Click here to read a special note about how this venue fits in with Rooftop Films' history



When Adnan Comes Home
When Adnan Comes Home is a documentary about 16-year-old Adnan whose life was ruined by a tragic turn of events that landed him in Iraq's criminal justice system under foreign occupation. Although the setting of the film is inherently political, the war is less the subject than the context in which a family drama unfolds. This deeply intimate and fiercely insightful film captures the fascinating nuances Adnan's childish desperation, his older brother's stubbornness, his mother's unflinching concern, and his father's moral quandary and emotional distance. Their story is universal, and could take place anywhere, and yet what it reveals about Iraqi culture—under occupation or not—is particularly pertinent in America today.

At the end of 2003, Adnan was arrested for stealing two meters of electric cable. This is a crime that is widespread throughout Iraq. Cable is looted and melted down as scrap metal. This practice has greatly hindered efforts toward reconstruction of the country's infrastructure. It is therefore considered a serious crime.

When Adnan was arrested, he was taken to the local police station in Bob Al Sham, a rural town just outside Baghdad. There he was beaten and tortured by the local police until he confessed. He was then moved to the Karkh Juvenile Detention facility where almost 200 boys are incarcerated. The inmates range from small time felons to murderers and rapists. This facility is one of the many prisons in Iraq that were supposed to have been under the supervision of the occupying coalition and private contractors hired by them. Aside from a fresh coat of paint, there is little evidence of improvement to this facility, particularly in regard to safety standards.

After Adnan had been imprisoned for two months, two of the inmates started a fire in an attempt to escape. A number of boys were trapped in the fire. For unknown reasons, it took more than twenty minutes for prison guards to free them from the area on fire. Twenty-one boys were taken to the hospital. Three died from smoke-inhalation. The others had severe burns ranging from thirty to eighty percent of their bodies. Of the survivors, Adnan was one of the most badly burned. He lost his ears and the flesh on his hands and scalp.

In spite of the prison's negligence, no compensation has been made to Adnan or his family, and he remains in prison today. The film documents the first nine months of Adnan's incarceration, and his family's struggle to obtain his release from an inefficient and corrupt justice system. Simultaneously, it intimately documents the simple life of Adnan's family living in relative poverty in a small rural town just outside Baghdad. There, Adnan's suffering is just one of the many problems they face today in Iraq.


The feature will be preceded by a short film:
La Plaine (The Field) (Roland Edzard | France | 13:00)
At a housing site under construction on the outskirts of the town, a quarrel breaks out between a father and his youngest son. The eldest son steps in and causes a fight which takes a bad turn. As with Adnan, this haunting and gritty nearly wordless film tells the story of a son who must gain his father's forgiveness for a crime.


THE MUSIC:
Blending a psychedelic sensibility and a pan-Mediterranean sensuality, Basya Schechter leads her band, Pharaoh's Daughter, through swirling Hasidic chants, Mizrachi and Sephardi folk-rock, and spiritual stylings filtered through percussion, flute, strings and electronica. Her sound has been cultivated by her Hasidic music background and a series of trips to the Middle East, Africa, Israel, Egypt, Central Africa, Turkey, Kurdistan and Greece. She began retuning her guitar to sound like a cross between an Arabic oud and a Turkish saz, with harmonic minor melodies, and odd time signatures.

Visit her online www.basya.com or on MySpace, myspace.com/basyaschechter.


SPECIAL NOTE ON THE VENUE:
On July 12, 1997, Mark Elijah Rosenberg hosted the first ever Rooftop Films screening on the roof of his apartment building at 328 East 14th Street. The night was a great success, but Mark's landlord was none too happy about the 200 people who had gathered on top of his building, and Mark had to move on. Now, almost exactly 10 years later, Rooftop Films returns to a new roof on the very same block. This exciting venue (complete with a playground pirate ship) is sure to send tingles up our spines, and undoubtedly will delight all those in attendance. The view is cool, the location is great, and the roof surface is rubber and won't be damaged by our chairs (which was the stated reason for the eviction so long, long ago).