IN FRONT OF A BLACK SCREEN A CHRYON WITH THE YEAR 2063
APPEARS AND FADES AWAY, THEN BASRA, IRAQ.
EXT. SHATT AL-ARAB RIVER, BASRA – EVENING
Establishing shot in front of an Iraqi with a near shaved
head. The lights of the city are blurred and unfocused
behind him but the outline of sky scrapers are visible.
He’s wearing sun glasses, an unbuttoned fluorescent shirt
and white shorts as he performs the combined Shia Muslim
prayer of Zuhar and Asr on the wooden deck of his boat. The
boat gently rocks on the river. He lingers, still on his
In a profile shot of his head we see a theme park on the
bank of the river in the background. The camera pans out
and a ride with a giant boat and a neon sign on the side
that reads “SINBADS” flashes in and out of the background.
Music is playing, people scream in joyful terror. This is
the only type of terror that exists in this country. A
police boat passes by. Ahead of him the sun bleeds into the
water as it sets, wrapped in bandages by fog clouds born
from an oil field at the lands end, only one of the funnels
is producing flame. The boat arcs to the right towards an
inlet as the camera zooms out. On the left side of the
river, behind Sinbad’s theme park are a plethora of
skyscrapers laced with neon advertising signs and video
screens advertising Tesla.
EXT. RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT – EVENING
There are parking bays outside blocks of beige, sandblasted
flats that tower 10 stories tall. Each parked car is sleek
and hooked up to a charging bay which is Tesla branded. The
buildings are angled and jagged, the top leans out towards
the road like upside down stairs leading back to the main
body of the building. Fake Palm trees and astro-grass
surround the flats. Cowering behind these flats is a modest
two floored home with an over grown garden surrounding it,
outside is a beaten and bruised, used to be white, Kia
Frontier car, permanently stained by dust and heat.
INT. FAMILY HOME – EVENING
RIKKU is preparing dinner. She sings along to the radio as
she cuts with a blunt knife. The knife rack next to her is
empty. The edge of her headscarf sticks to her forehead.
She’s wearing a white shirt and beige trousers which flare
at the sides. Her shirt is unbuttoned to the top of her
chest and the tip of a bandage can be seen under her right
sleeve. She sets the table which takes up most of the space
in the kitchen and returns to the sink, a bead of sweat
trickles down the side of her head leaving behind a trail
of purple near her eye as it lifts some foundation.
Her singing halts as she’s startled by the noise of someone
entering. It’s her father. She buttons up her shirt. He
enters the kitchen and she turns thrusting her arms to her
SAYEED is dressed in grey overalls which are wearing at the
knees and his boots have dispersed dust on the floor. He
has a visible skin defect under the tip of his nose where
there’s a gap, he removes his helmet and reveals another
which covers the right of his forehead just above his eye.
He looks as though he’s lived out a century, with a look of
expectancy that he’ll see out another.
Hello my love, I trust dinner is
Not quite, can you wait a couple
of minutes Papa?
(He chuckles after
I can’t but I will.
SAYEED turns off the radio and turns on the television
before sitting at the table. RIKKU places a glass of water
down next to him and begins serving the dinner.
How was work today?
SAYEED gulps down his glass of water before letting out a
contented breath, as though it’s been held prisoner.
Fine, my dear.
Devie wasn’t bothering you again
RIKKU places down his plate in front of him, taking away
his glass and refilling it.
He doesn’t really bother me,
Rikku. He’s a nice enough man.
RIKKU goes to place the glass with him but she recoils
briefly as he begins again.
Although he wouldn’t shut up about
that sellout councilor.
Ms. Abed Jaseem?
RIKKU places his glass down and collects her own dinner.
The whore who leapt into bed with
those pigs and their cancerous
She flinches as she approaches.
Every day I swallow this Uranium
medication. An American get out of
jail free card for the damage of
their illegal war and their
I think he wants me to convert me.
You’d sooner catch me in one of
those McDonalds before I support
her. And don’t get me started on
I told him “You shouldn’t even be
fucking gambling!”. Bah! These
people want to further dilute
tradition from our constitution.
He ends his rant and turns his attention to the TV as RIKKU
takes her seat.
SAYEED ignores RIKKU’S interjection. The TV switches on.
TV: set volume to 25.
An automated voice responds confirming the instruction.
RIKKU sits down with her dinner opposite him. They both
look up at the TV on the counter in between bites. The
seven o’clock news begins with discussion about the city’s
Tonight’s main story, Noor Abed
Jaseem comes out fighting in her
bid for re-election ahead of next
weeks council elections.
TV: set volume OFF.
There’s a montage of NOOR at a podium, the crowd appear to
be cheering, she’s seen discussing with voters and posing
It might help if she sacked her
It might help if the volume was
SAYEED hits his fist on the table.
It might help if we stopped
talking about it.
The silence is broken by RIKKU nervously cutting and
scraping at the food on her plate. Her eyes well up as she
keeps her head down trying to use the food to steady
SAYEED’S fists are clenched. He places both fists down
strategically either side of his plate, his knife and fork
erect in them.
Is something wrong, my love?
She shovels a forkful of food into her mouth and chews to
clog her jaw’s quivering.
SAYEED is controlled, methodical, analysing each bite.
RIKKU speeds up her eating, making more noise. He bangs his
fist on the table.
Perhaps if you would be quiet we
might enjoy this lovely meal!
I’m sorry, Papa.
His anger is alleviated.
You wouldn’t want to waste all
your hard work now would you?
It returns as blood drops from the defect on his nose.
Now look what you’ve done.
He gets up and marches to the sink. RIKKU picks up her
glass of water and napkin from the table and follows him.
Let me help you.
SAYEED shrugs her off, forcefully. She drops the glass of
water which smashes, letting a half formed scream escape.
He takes the napkin from her hand and dabs the blood which
is trickling down his nose. RIKKU slumps to the floor,
collecting pieces of the glass in her hand. SAYEED towers
I’m sorry my dear. It’s not your
fault. I just wanted to enjoy this
lovely meal you cooked. Ever since
It’s fine. Sit down, enjoy the
rest of your meal. I’ll clean this
SAYEED holds the napkin to his face and walks past the
table, ignoring the rest of his dinner and pulls the door
closed as he exits the room.
RIKKU puts the remains of the glass she’s collected into
the shattered base of the glass and drops it in the bin.
She sits at the table and finishes her dinner.
INT. RIKKU’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
The bedroom ceiling light flickers under the pristine glass
casing which conceals it. Snoring can be heard. A clock on
the wall ticks, reading 9.35. It’s dark outside. RIKKU has
removed her headscarf, her hair hangs down, she’s wearing a
black dress and black, ankle length boots. She reaches back
into her cupboard and moves a panel, pulling a long beige
trench coat from behind it and puts it on. She searches
under her bed mattress at the back of the room away from
the window, and pulls out a phone from under it. A graphic
shows her hiring an Uber through the app. On a chest of
drawers next to the door and under the clock is a framed
photo of a young RIKKU with SAYEED and her mother cuddling.
Cracks are spreading through the paint on the walls,
slithering out of the cover provided by two posters of the
same woman singing. RIKKU opens the drawer and collects the
key for her window. Next to the key is an unframed photo of
a young RIKKU with her mother. She has no hair. RIKKU looks
happy, her mother’s mouth is smiling but her eyes are
RIKKU unlocks her window, carefully opening it. She climbs
out the window and leans on the window ledge, pulling the
window over but leaving it slightly ajar. She then drops
onto an old mattress outside and sneaks off towards the
bottom of the street where she gets into an uber.
INT. GRAND BASRA HOTEL – NIGHT
RIKKU stands with her back to the bar and her arms crossed,
still wearing her trench coat. She looks out at the stage,
which is lit in purple and maroon. TARIA is playing piano.
Some of the dance floor in front of the stage is left open.
The rest is obscured by purple cushioned booths littering
the floor facing the stage, which are less than half full
with people. Some are dressed in suits, some dresses and
others in traditional Iraqi clothing – there’s a diversity
of people represented through the clothing.
TARIA finishes playing and receives reserved applause, as
though this music is as common to the people watching as
hold-music is on the telephone. She walks down the stairs
off stage and heads towards the bar.
The Iraqi from the opening scene walks past carrying a rum
and coke with a Japanese couple.
TARIA approaches dressed in skinny jeans and a sleeveless
black jacket over a white t-shirt, removing her glasses.
You’re a little late.
The two hug.
Hey. I’m sorry.
You’re lucky you’re talented.
RIKKU allows a grin to spread across her face, but she
hides her face in a way that suggests she’s trying to
contain it. The two lean against the bar and face one
another. RIKKU, with her right arm and TARIA with her left.
Speaking of which, it’s about time
you accepted my job offer.
Oh Taria. I-I can’t right now.
RIKKU faces the bar, her forearms rest there.
You still can’t, huh?
TARIA faces the stage looking up.
(Nodding along to each
No. I’ve got too much work to do.
And I just don’t know if I could
spend so long away from home…
living on a cruise ship.
If you ask me, spending so long
away from home is the only thing
you should be doing.
They face each other.
I’m worried about you Rikku.
TARIA grabs RIKKU’S forearm which leans on the bar and
RIKKU recoils, snatching her arm away.
What is it? Whats the matter?
RIKKU lets her arm go loose and TARIA takes her hand,
slowly rolling up the sleeve to reveal her bandage.
Are you kidding me? He’s done it
TARIA starts unraveling the bandage.
I’m sorry, it’s not his-
She’s interrupted by a glare from TARIA, tears well in
RIKKU’S eyes. Under the bandage is a blistering burn mark.
I’m not leaving this city without
you. You’re coming with me and
you’re taking this job.
RIKKU nods her head as she sniffs, fighting back tears and
biting her lip. The two embrace once more, linking both
hands. TARIA kisses the wound gently.
I want to sing here. One last
Clasping hands, they nod and lean their heads together.
RIKKU removes her jacket, her backless dress reveals a long
scar across her upper back. The two walk towards the stage
holding hands. TARIA takes her place at the piano and RIKKU
takes the microphone.
…One last time.
EXT. RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT – NIGHT
TARIA pulls up a comfortable distance away from RIKKU’S
house in her car.
This is too risky.
I can’t leave without the photos
of my mother.
Just get what you came for and get
out. Don’t take too long, I’ll
keep the engine running.
RIKKU kisses TARIA on the cheek.
Thanks. For everything. I’ll be
She approaches the house and slips round the back to where
she exited. Her window is still ajar. She moves a ladder
from the over grown grass and positions it next to the
window, climbing in.
INT. FAMILY HOME – NIGHT
The clock on the wall ticks. RIKKU approaches the light
switch and flicks it. It doesn’t go on. She tries it
several more times but gets no response. She exhales
sharply, trying to compose herself. She turns on her phone
torch and SAYEED is sitting on her bed.
You’re up early.
RIKKU staggers back, pointing her phone light at him. He
grabs her in a headlock and drags her into the hall next to
the living room. He thrusts her down to the floor, standing
over her. The moonlight shines through half drawn blinds in
the front window, splicing light and dark over him. RIKKU
splutters, crouched on her knees on the floor.
Do you think I didn’t know? I
warned you to stop going to that
There’s a dark trickle of blood from the defect at his
Those pigs, their war did this to
me and your mother. Now you want
to jump into bed with them, with
what they’ve built!
He kicks her in the stomach. She yelps.
I am ashamed of your behavior.
He kneels, close to her face.
Your mother, would be ashamed of
Singing on stage, dressed like
that in front of all those men…
(Her voice coarse but
I don’t even like men.
You’re a disgrace!
He kicks her stomach again, she falls to the floor. He
kicks her again and she writhes. He lifts her by the throat
trying to put her in a choke-hold but RIKKU fights back.
She crushes him back against the wall, and again, she’s
free. She slams his face against the wall and he falls. She
spots her framed family photo on the floor at the door to
her room. She picks it up, he rolls onto his belly, blood
seeps from his skin defect through the hand which holds his
face and drips onto the floor. She thrusts her knee against
his back and holds her arm around his throat. She sticks
two fingers into the defect in his nose and pulls hard, the
skin tears at the seams and he screams.
Cancer might have killed my
mother, but you were the real
cancer in this family.
She picks up the photo and lashes it over his head and he
drops to the floor.
She scuttles back to her room to grab the photo of her and
her mother from the drawers. She descends the stairs to the
front door and exits, leaving SAYEED behind. The final shot
shows the broken glass, the turmoil around him, he’s still
breathing and we focus on the remains of the shattered and
now crumpled family photo on the floor.
I wanted to challenge myself with this assignment. I did a fair amount of reading and research after I was inspired by the use of Iraq as a futuristic map in ‘Overwatch’ where the country wasn’t envisaged as war torn. It made me consider the importance of perpetuating the Middle East as a war zone in fiction and film so I set about creating a world where terror and war were absent and focus on a personal story. I also considered the legacy effect of the allied forces use of Uranium ammunition in the Iraq war.
My introduction takes inspiration from Blade Runner as a futuristic city-scape, but I also wanted to include the oil field which exists today as something winding down, symbolic of the past and the Sinbad theme park as a cultural touch point of Basra – and how that may be exploited by modernity. It was important to keep these elements so the city didn’t seem completely alien. Similarly, the Iraqi citizen in the introduction sets a tone for a more moderate and open city as he practice’s prayer, but is in casual clothing and later seen drinking. This represents a sub-plot conflict of modernity vs tradition, and the importance of balance.
The main conflict is a story of domestic abuse. Abuse can happen anywhere. Sayeed uses his daughter as a target for his anger at losing his wife to cancer, at being scarred for life from birth through the Iraq war legacy and no fault of his own. Similarly, the scars he inflicts upon Rikku are no fault of her own. After the Iraq war some of our soldiers channelled their PTSD in horrific ways, this is the other side of the coin. Can she escape it? It’s ultimately about her liberation and being able to embrace her dreams and the opportunities this modern Basra has brought her, a modern Basra which Sayeed will never accept.