Halabja, the end of the beginning is a cinematic impression of Saddam Hussein’s 1988 genocidal attack on the Kurdish in the north-eastern Iraqi city of Halabja. Documentary filmmaker Massoud Memar interchanges still shots of Kurdish community life with the attack and its victims.
Taking place in the later stages of the Iran-Iraq war, the Al-Anfal Campaign was an attempt by Saddam Hussein to break the resistance of the Kurdish peshmerga. On the eve of the sixteenth of March 1988 a squadron of Iraqi fighter planes bombarded Halabja with chemical bombs, killing approximately five thousand innocent civilians and injuring numerous more. The attack was internationally acknowledged as genocide, and was as of 2008 the largest-scale chemical weapons attack directed against a civilian-populated area in history.
About the filmmaker
Besides being a documentary filmmaker, Massoud Memar (Iran, 1954) is also active as a journalist, screenwriter and photographer. In 1976 he attended the film academy in Paris, France. After returning to Iran, he started a foundation for film critics, which was later abolished by the Iranian government because Memar was considered to be to socio-politically engaged. He was politically persecuted and for fifteen years prohibited to practise his profession. In 1994 he subsequently fled to the Netherlands and applied for asylum.
Shots of Kurdish community life
Still shots of the attack
Still shots of Saddam Hussein’s 1988 genocidal attack on the Kurdish in the north-eastern Iraqi city of Halabja.
Confronting images of victims
The green environment turned bleak as waves of Iraqi warplanes in their attack used hydrogen cyanide gases which suffocate and kill men in less than a minute. Due to these chemical bombs approximately five thousand innocent civilians of Halabja were killed and a lot of people were injured.