The Tenth Planet: A Single Woman’s Life in Baghdad

One of the films featured at the International Museum of Women’s Online Film Festival is Melis Birder’s fascinating documentary short, The Tenth Planet: A Single Woman’s Life in Baghdad.  Birder reports that she traveled to Baghdad in 2004 to cover the aftermath of the war in Iraq when she met Kawkab, a young Iraqi woman who was to serve as her translator and guide.  However, as Birder got to know Kawkab, she found that her story was worth telling.  The film’s title refers to Kawkab’s name, which means “planet.”  When someone asks about her name, Kawkab describes herself as “the tenth planet.”  Like many documentaries of the Iraq War, The Tenth Planet is an indispensable portrait of daily life in Baghdad, with Kawkab taking us on a tour of her daily experiences–stopping at a hair salon where she reveals the blond highlights hidden by her scarf, visiting her office where she is unable to work because of a lack of electricity, and eating dinner with her family.

The film is especially valuable because it is one of the few Iraq War documentaries to focus primarily on women’s experiences, and Kawkab discusses her experiences as a single woman with remarkable candor, including one scene in which she describes two potential suitors, one a man she has known for several years and clearly loves who cannot afford to support her.  Another who might be able to provide for her happens to belong to another religious sect and Kawkab worries that her father will not approve of the marriage.  It’s a poignant scene, and while the film explicitly shows us the physical damage the war has wrought on Baghdad, these reminders of the emotional turmoil are important as well.

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  1. Syruptaj.Com » The Tenth Planet: A Single Woman’s Life in Baghdad Said,

    October 28, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

    [...] wrote an interesting post today on The Tenth Planet: A Single Womanâs Life in BaghdadHere’s a quick [...]

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