Journey Of Eternity
Imagine the first scene of this film. A darkly lit courtroom in Baghdad, Iraq, cold concrete walls all around, full of tortured and tired prisoners; 3 of them have the looks of leaders and planners. The rest look to them for guidance. The men are Assyrian activists. Their bodies look weary, but in their eyes is the spirit of resistance. They wait in silence.
The court clerk, dressed in military uniform, calls their names one by one. He is loud and cruel, mocking some of them. They respond. The names of Yousip, Youbert, and Youkhanna are called. They are separated from the rest. These are the leaders and everyone knows.
The sentences are soon handed down. Yousip, Youbert, and Youkhanna are condemned to death by hanging. The rest are to serve life imprisonment. They are accused of treason.
Their crime is an effort to uphold their ancient and embattled Assyrian identity and persecuted heritage and to fight for their existence as a people. But the Iraqi authorities cannot make sense of this. “Assyrians?” they sneer, and mock the very idea of an ancient identity. Iraq is at war with Iran, and no dissent will be tolerated. Not by the Ba’athists who are led by Saddam Hussein.
By any account, the Ba’athist regime in Iraq was brutal. Led by Saddam Hussein, the Ba’ath Party of Iraq became a dictatorial and repressive machine, singling out enemies everywhere, and brutally torturing or killing them. The Ba’athist regime was one which based its legitimacy on its Arab ideology and upheld a slogan that demanded respect: “One Arab nation bearing an eternal message.” The message was clear and unequivial. It was centered around the idea that the state is unified under a single party and is not pluralistic or diverse.
This is the story of 3 heroes; Youbert, Yousip, and Youkhana, who stood and died for their beliefs. They were Assyrians who found their people and heritage in trouble, and sacrificed to protect them.
In a moving story, their message of sacrifice and determination, of standing for what one believes at a time of crises and difficulty, is handed to one Esho, who seeks to deliver their call to those outside of Iraq. And so Esho, instructed and inspired by heroes who have been martyred and imprisoned, escapes Iraq and journeys north toward safety. From Iraqi he enters Turkey and then Europe, and finally America, seeking asylum and shelter. His journey introduces him to other Assyrians spread in different countries. His task is to carry the message. And he does.
This is the story of heroes and challenges. It is an Assyrian story for all of humanity. It is about how ideas sparked by conscience can become dangerous but attractive and worth fighting and dying for. This film is based on a true story. An Assyrian story in Iraq. But a story for all of mankind.
Director: Frank Gilbert