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Babylon 2 by Samir ‘I’m half-half … and I don’t care’

Samir, one of Switzerland’s most versatile film directors, is known for his willingness to explore new technologies and possibilities. With Babylon 2, released in 1994, he made his mark on Swiss cinematic history: it was not only the first digital documentary, but also the first to give a voice to young second-generation immigrants, so-called secondos. Today, the inhabitant of Zurich with Iraqi origins has returned to surprise audiences with a documentary in 3D. 

Babylon 2 was the portrait of an era: the 1990s, urban development, multiculturalism, rap music, the spread of digital technology. It’s a hybrid documentary made with all the technology available: 16mm and 35mm film, video and digital technology. 

Revolutionary at the time, Samir’s documentary was selected by the Solothurn Film Festival as one of the works that left its mark on Swiss cinema. It also featured in the retrospective for the festival’s 50th anniversary in January 2015. 

Today, Samir has returned with Iraqi Odyssey, a 3D documentary in which members of his family, dispersed around the world, reflect on their past and present but also the history of their home, Iraq. The film was shown at the Berlin Film Festival in the Panorama section and was also nominated for the 2015 Swiss Film Prize. 

(By Stefania Summermatter and Christoph Balsiger)

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