As Seen on German TV, the Story of a Young Boy's Journey From Iraq to Syria to Dallas

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ZDF/Tomas Halda
Ahmed and his classmates at Sam Tasby as seen in the made-for-German-TV short Von Bagdad nach Dallas
Dallas Independent School District spokesman Jon Dahlander, back from summer break, shot me a note this morning about a short film called Von Bagdad nach Dallas. "At some point, you need to see this," he wrote, explaining he had a lone copy on DVD given to him a while back, which he'd come across today while cleaning off his desk. "It needs a larger audience here in town so that people understand the melting pot that Dallas really is."

I did a little digging and discovered on the Internet Movie Database this description provided by the director, Fritz Ofner, who explains that the film began when he met a 12-year-old Iraqi boy named Ahmed and his family in a Syrian refugee camp. Ultimately, he writes, they were given asylum in the U.S. and brought here. Writes Ofner, "Ahmed's everyday life in Dallas oscillates between moments of being a carefree teenager and the heavy burden of his personal fate, which forces him to grow up fast."

Dahlander says he got involved when Ofner called to ask if they could shoot at Sam Tasby Middle School on Fair Oaks, where Ahmed was enrolled. "Usually we don't allow that kind of access, because we don't want to disrupt the learning environment," Dahlander told me. "But this was a different deal. The principal was very responsive, and that's what happened."

It looks to have screened at the Vienna International Human Rights Film Festival last year, before its debut on German TV. Speaking of: The Google Machine led me here, where you can watch Von Bagdad nach Dallas right now, or at least before the power goes out. It's as touching and as enlightening as Dahlander promised, particularly the field trip to Dallas Heritage Village. And go ahead and ask Ahmed when the Civil War took place. He can tell you. Just like that.
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scottindallas
scottindallas

Just met an Iraqi Shiite family a couple of weeks back, they just got here a few months ago.  They have a young boy age 5 and two daughters age 10.  I can't imagine all the mixed feelings they must have. 

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

I'll talk to Jon. In the meantime, email me off-air (robert.wilonsky@dallasobserver.com), as it sounds like a follow-up is in order. Thanks.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

Robert, Justin is a  great guy, one you should know. Really.

Justin Banta
Justin Banta

This is great--thanks for writing about it. I know this family and there's a lot more to this story. The filmmaker was instrumental in getting the family out of Syria; they've been in Dallas for about two years and have had a really rough time but are slowly digging themselves out it.  They are amazing.  Is there a way we could do a screening?

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

I'll talk to Jon. In the meantime, email me off-air (robert.wilonsky@dallasobserver.com). Perhaps a follow-up's in order. Thanks.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

great story Robert.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

To be honest, when Jon sent this to me, you were the first guy I thought of, Bill.

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