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Al amiriya the shelter, The script Al amiriya the shelter, The script Document Transcript

  • THE SHELTER Al-Amiriya By Siham Jouhari & Norman B. Schwartz a true story Registed WGA West 1397050 sihamour@hotmail.com
  • FADE UP: PRE-TITLE SEQUENCE INT. ABU ALI HOUSE LIVING ROOM AFTERNOON A birthday party in progress in a comfortable middle-class house in the Al-Amiriya district of Baghdad. The hostess, Sawsan, an attractive forty year old woman dressed in a colorful floral patterned dress, wearing jewel- ery, and with a chignon fixed atop of her head, assisted by her teenage daughter Shayma, pass through a room serving all sorts of honeyed sweets and Iraqi delicacies to their many GUESTS. The host, ABU ALI, a prosperous Iraqi businessman in his fifties, dressed up in an elegant brown suit, sits in a com- fortable chair and drinks his tea while arguing with his neighbor, an obese man, DR. ABU HASSAN, while other IRAQI MEN of the same age listen. ABU ALI (to Abu Hassan) If we all felt the way you do, my friend, we would be still living in tents in the desert or catching fish on the banks of the Tigris. Abu Hassan, in no way offended, laughs at his friend’s observation and reaches for a sweet, which he devours in one gulp. At the same time, a dozen exited YOUNG CHILDREN, aged three to eight years old, all dressed up for the occasion, run around the living room making a great deal of noise as they are chased by the OLDER CHILDREN. Escaping from the games, SALMA, age four, Abu’s Ali youngest daughter, rushes up to her father. SALMA Baba Baba! Ilyad pushed me again. ABU ALI (feigning shock) Ohhhh! Show me your wound. Abu Ali’s lifts up Salma and places her on his lap and ex- amines his daughter with mock seriousness. (CONTINUED)
  • CONTINUED: 2. ABU ALI (CON’T) Oh that’s terrible. We need a doctor, quick! Abu Ali turns to Dr. Abu Hassan. ABU ALI (CON’T) Doctor, can you have a look at this please? Abu Hassan places his glasses on his nose and inspects the little girl with great care. Pointing with his finger, he touches Salma’s knee. ABU HASSAN Let me blow on it and the pain will disappear... He does. ABU HASSAN (CONT’D) ...Forever. Abu Ali and Salma look at each other and start laughing at the doctor’s amusing trick. Abu Hassan grabs yet another sweet and swallows it. EXT. ABU ALI’S HOUSE GARDEN AFTERNOON Outside in the garden, Abu Ali’s three sons--ALI, eighteen years old, HUSSEIN, twelve, and MUSTAFA, eight-- are playing Hide and Seek. Their neighbor, teenager MOHAMED, has joined them in the game. Ali, standing in the middle of the other boys who surround him, points his finger at his brother Husain. ALI Your turn to count now, Husain. Ali pulls Husain to the wall of the house, and puts his hands over Husain’s eyes. ALI (CONT’D) Count until fifty. MOHAMED Fifty? He only knows how to count until thirty, the poor guy. (CONTINUED)
  • CONTINUED: 3. MUSTAFA That’s homework you’re giving him, Ali. HUSSEIN Don’t mention school please! ALI Ready? Start at three, two, one, GO. Ali, Mustafa and Mohamed each run in different directions while Husain stands by the wall counting. HUSAIN One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, (etc). Ali reaches a corner of the garden where tools and old bi- cycles are stored. He turns to find little Mustafa beside him. ALI Go and find another place. Why are you always following me? MUSTAFA Let me hide next to you. ALI No. You’re too noisy. Mustafa leaves his brother and runs to hide behind a tree. HUSSEIN (continuing counting) Twenty five, twenty six, twenty seven, twenty eight, twenty nine, thirty, (etc). Mustafa at his hiding place suddenly sees a German Shepherd beside him. The dog starts barking ferociously, showing it teeth and dribbling saliva in front of a scrawny cat who is trying to protect its newborn kittens. Scared to death, Mustafa can’t move. He waves his hands wildly, hoping to be seen by his older brothers, but nobody notices him. Slowly he manages to get away from the dog, and then runs as fast as he can to Ali and Husain. (CONTINUED)
  • CONTINUED: 4. MUSTAFA (pointing) That dog, that dog! He runs towards his house to get someone. His two brothers and their friend, Mohamed, approach the dog cautiously. MOHAMED Ali, do something, otherwise... ALI What do you want me to do? Ali picks up a a branch from the ground and hands it to Ali. MOHAMED Beat it with that. Shakily and scared, Ali slowly approaches the dog, waves the stick at it. The dog opens it mouth, bares its teeth, and snarls angrily at him. Ali steps back. INT. ABU ALI’S LIVING ROOM AFTERNOON Inside the house, little Mustafa runs into the living room and pushes his way through the crowd of party guests. Out of breath, he approaches his father, still holding Salma on his lap. MUSTAFA (to Abu Ali) Baba Baba, the dog out there is going to attack them. Quick quick! Salma hugs her father. SALMA Baba, I’m scare. ABU ALI Attack who? MUSTAFA The cat and it kittens. Hearing this, Sawsan stands up from where she is seated with the other women, and walks to her husband Abu Ali. SAWSAN That’s the same dog which keeps returning again and again. (CONTINUED)
  • CONTINUED: 5. Abu Ali stands up and hands his smallest child to his wife. Abu Ali turns to his doctor friend, Abu Hassan. ABU ALI Yallah Abu Hassan. Let’s go get rid of this kelb (dog) once for all. Mustafa grabs his father’s hand and pulls him out to the garden. The party guests follow them. EXT. ABU ALI’S GARDEN AFTERNOON Mustafa, Abu Ali, and Abu Ali’s guests cross to the place in the garden where the dog is cowering over the cat and its kittens. Ali, Husain and Mohamned have all bravely picked up sticks and are waving them in front of the dog, trying to stop it from attacking the cat and its kittens. Abu Ali shouts at the animal. ABU ALI Get lost you dirty dog, go away! The dog doesn’t move. Abu Ali spontaneously removes one of his shoes and throws it at the dog’s face. The dog avoids the shoe and continues to bark ferociously. Abu Ali removes his second shoe and targets it right at the dog’s face. Direct hit. The animal runs away yelping. The children and guests start laughing at Abu’s Ali ingen- ious method. MUSTAFA Wooooooow Baba, you are an hero! You should have practiced some karate instead of throwing your shoes. Little Mustafa shows him some karate moves. His father laughs. ABU ALI Well the shoe is quicker and more effective. ALI You’re right, Baba. Even Bruce Lee could not have done better. The children and guests laugh as Abu Ali picks up his shoes. Ali’s aged mother, SABIHA, smiles proudly at her son. (CONTINUED)
  • CONTINUED: 6. ABU ALI (showing shoe to Sabiha) A very strong shoe, Mama. Their neighbor, another old lady, UMM FATIMA, cannot resist the opportunity to make fun of her host. UMM FATIMA (sarcastically) Oh yes Abu Ali. It’s very strong. No other dogs will ever enter your garden anymore or even dare to come to Baghdad again because of your strong shoes. Guests laugh at Umm Fatima’s joke. Sawsan appears at the door of the garden. SAWSAN Yallah (Let’s go.) Enough of dogs and shoes! It’s time now. Let Mustafa blow out his candles. All start walking back to the house, all except Mustafa who returns to the cat and its kittens. He leans down and covers them with a cardboard box with holes punched in it. MUSTAFA Here you are my little cats. Nobody will ever attack you again. From now on I will wear Baba’s magic shoes... (standing up) Have to go now, will bring you some cakes later...that is if uncle Hassan leaves us any! INT. ABU ALI’S LIVING ROOM AFTERNOON Men, woman and children are seated around a table when the hostess Sawsan enters from the kitchen, carrying a birth- day cake with eight lit candles. Her daughter, Shayma, seated in front of the piano, begins to play the Happy Birthday song. Everyone joins in singing. There is a framed picture of Saddam Hussain hanging on the wall over the piano. ALL Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday, dear Mustafa,(etc). (CONTINUED)
  • CONTINUED: 7. The song ends, little Mustafa takes a deep breath and blows out all the candles. Everyone claps. The obese doctor, Abu Hassan, is the first to approach the boy. ABU HASSAN I wish you all the happiness, boy. Abu Hassan then grabs the first piece of cake cut by the hostess Sawsan. MUSTAFA Me too uncle Hassan. I wish you all the happiness. Mustafa also grabs a piece of cake. As cake is passed to all the guests, Shayma spontaneously begins playing the Iraqi national anthem. Husband and wife, Abu Ali and Sawsan’s eyes meet filled with pride, he smiles at her and she smiles at him. Proudly, he starts to sing the national anthem along with the old woman, Umm Fatima, singing the loudest. Abu Ali’s mother, all her grand children, and the rest of the guests join in. At the end of the song, Shayma’s last note on the piano co- incides with a ENORMOUS BLAST, a nearby explosion that rocks the house’s walls and rattles the glasses and dishes on the tables and in the cabinets. The adults and children all stop singing, instantly awake to reality. Abu Ali, followed by the men at the party, immediately rush to comfort their family; the frightened children run to their mother’s arms. Shayma ignores the panic and continues playing the national anthem while the guests gather their family members. Thanking and hugging Abu’s Ali and his wife for the lovely gathering, one by one the guests begin to depart. Shayma keeps on playing until the last guest disappears from the living room. As they do, Superimpose TITLE: AL-AMIRIYA DISTRICT BAGHDAD FEBRUARY 1991 _______________________________________________________________ PRE-TITLE SEQUENCE ENDS: (CONTINUED)
  • CONTINUED: 8. MAIN TITLE SEQUENCE BEGINS FADE TO BLACK: FADE UP: INT. AL-AMIRIYA BOMB SHELTER NIGHT A large bomb shelter building located in the middle of a courtyard in the Al-Amiriya residential district of Baghdad. The hall is furnished with double-decker beds and T.V. sets hanging on the walls. The shelter is used by the people from the area who come every night to find refuge from the con- stant bombing of the city. THREE TEENAGE BOYS make a lot of noise as they sit on the floor playing video games. Singing a catchy Arabic ditty, a young woman, NOOR, carrying an infant in her arms, passes by the boys on her way to the women’s section of the hall. In the back of the shelter, by a wall, a group of TEENAGE GIRLS sit on a bed, giggling as they flip the pages of magazines and comment on latest movie star gossip. Sitting among them, her thoughts on something else, is one of the guests at the party, a very pretty eighteen year old girl, BOUCHRA and her friend, NADA, the same age. NADA (looking at photos) Oh this one is so handsome. The Egyptian singer. He’s my favorite. (to Bouchra) Almost as handsome as your Ahmed, Bouchra. Bouchra blushes in embarrassment. Further down near the hall, a middle-age couple, YUSUF, a gruff unshaven taxi-driver, forty five, and his pretty wife DINA, thirty seven, are trying to control their many small children [YUSUF’S CHILDREN] who have been fighting with each other over toys. YUSUF takes the toys away, and hides them behind his back. His children look at him with disappointment and surprise. YUSUF (sternly) If want these back tonight, you’ll have to calm yourselves down now! (CONTINUED)
  • CONTINUED: 9. DINA Yusuf, they are only children. Let them play. YUSUF Quietly then. DINA Look at the other children around here. They’re also making noises. YUSUF Other children are not mine... Any- way I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep coming here every night. DINA Where else do you want us to go? YUSUF (CONT’D) We can all stay home at night. Why am I the only one who sleeps in the house? DINA Someone has to stay there to keep the burglars from stealing every-thing. One of their young daughters, IMAN, one and half years old, crawls on the floor until she reaches her father’s feet, pulling on his left pant’s leg. Despite his annoyance at his wife, Yusuf lifts his daughter up into his arms and gives the baby an affectionate kiss. Way off in the distance, another bomb goes off. Dina brings both her hands together in prayer. DINA God protect us. YUSUF No one protects us, Dina, but ourselves. He gives his daughter back to her mother. YUSUF (CONT’D) Now I have to go to work. I’ll come by tomorrow morning to pick you up... Goodnight. He starts walking to the entrance of the shelter.
  • 10. EXT. AL-AMIRIYA BOMB SHELTER NIGHT The hostess Sawsan, her three sons--Ali, Husain, little Mustafa-- and her teenage daughter Shayma arrive outside the shelter. They all push on a heavy metal door at the entrance to the shelter. The door gives way slowly. They see Yusuf, the taxi driver, coming out. As usual, he is in a hurry. Little Mustafa is especially fond of the gruff man. MUSTAFA Salam, uncle Yusuf! How are you tonight? YUSUF Terrible! He heads off to the street. The family, knowing Yusuf’s sour character, simply laugh in amusement, and go through the door into the shelter. INT. AL-AMIRIYA BOMB SHELTER TEEN BOY’S SECTION NIGHT At the upper level hall of the shelter, the boys spot empty beds near their friend’s and run to drop off their night bags. INT. AL-AMIRIYA BOMB SHELTER WOMEN SECTION NIGHT Sawsan goes with her daughter Shayma to the women’s sect- ion of the shelter where they are spotted by Shayma’s class- mate, the beautiful Bouchra, who stands up when she sees her best friend approaching. BOUCHRA (calling out) Shayma! Over here. I saved you the bed next to mine. SHAYMA Thank you, Bouchra. Shayma walks over to her friend. The two girls kiss. BOUCHRA (to Sawsan) And thank you, aunty, for this afternoon’s party. It was really nice. (CONTINUED)
  • CONTINUED: 11. Sawsan smiles fondly at Bouchra. SAOUASSAN Don’t forget the next gathering is going to be your engagement party! Bouchra nods in embarrassment. SAWSAN Why are you so embarrassed, my eyes? ... My parents met with Ali Abu’s parents and they married me with uncle Abu Ali when I was sixteen and look today we have five wonderful children. SHAYMA (pointing to herself) Yes wonderful daughter! Bouchra laughs and the two girl friends sit down together on Shayma’s bed. SAOUASSAN (CONT’D) Girls, I have to go see about my boys. I’ll come back later. She leaves her daughter and friend in the women’s section. INT. BOMB SHELTER TEEN BOY’S SECTION NIGHT Sawsan crosses the crowded hall until she arrives in the men’s section where she finds her three sons fighting. HUSSEIN Why do I have always to sleep on the top? ALI Because you are younger than me. SAWSAN Hurry up boys, it’s already late, put on your pajamas and go to bed. MUSTAFA But there is no school Mama. SAOUASSAN I know that but you still have to sleep to gain strength for tomorrow my eyes.
  • 12. Her three boys, Ali, Mustafa, Husain, get their pajamas out of their respective bags. INT. BOMB SHELTER STAIRCASE NIGHT But instead of undressing, the boys first run downstairs to the bomb shelter bathroom. Husain removes his shirt on his way down while Mustafa, carrying his pajamas under his arm, concentrates on playing with his video game without looking where he is going. His brother Ali pushes him on the stairs and Mustafa almost falls. ALI Yallah, hurry up, Mustafa, you can play later. MUSTAFA Give me a break. I’m winning! INT. BOMB SHELTER BATHROOM NIGHT Ali and Husain walk to the washbasin, take out their tooth- brushes and toothpaste from their toilet bags. As the boys brush their teeth, they compete with each other to see who can finish first. Mustafa now appears in front of them, wearing his pajamas inside out. Husain, with white foam all over his mouth, notices his little brother in the mirror and laughs. HUSAIN Ali, look at Mustafa! Ali turns to see Mustafa in his pajamas, smiles affection- ately and goes over to help his youngest brother put on his pajamas the right way. Husain takes advantage of the moment to quickly rinse his mouth. HUSSEIN (CONT’D) I finish first! ALI No! I did before you. HUSSEIN Yes, but you didn’t rinse your mouth. Ali rushes back to the sink, rinses his mouth as his broth- ers pack up their toilet kits and head back upstairs to the main hall.
  • 13. INT. BOMB SHELTER TEEN BOY’S SECTION NIGHT The brothers see their mother finish up making up their beds. SAWSAN Yallah boys, your beds are ready. One by one, they reach up to their mother’s cheek and kiss her tenderly. SAWSAN’S SONS (ad lib) Good night Mama, etc. They climb inside their blankets. Sawsan stands above her youngest who is in a lower bunk. SAWSAN (to Mustafa) And no more running around. Understand? ALI Don’t worry mama I’ll watch him. MUSTAFA Mama? SAOUSAN Yes, my baby? Sawsan leans down closer to his face. MUSTAFA Why can’t you stay with us tonight? SAOUSAN I have to take care of Baba and Salma, my eyes. You know that. MUSTAFA But what about me? You can leave Baba alone in the house for once. You don’t even need to prepare his dinner. He can cook his famous eggs sandwich that I like so much. HUSSEIN Stop complaining to Mama all the time. You’re supposed to be a big man now like your brothers. (CONTINUED)
  • CONTINUED: 14. MUSTAFA I didn’t talk to you. Mustafa grabs his pillow and throws it at his brother. HUSSEIN Hey, what do you think you are doing? Husain throws the pillow back to him. SAOUASSAN Enough boys, enough! MUSTAFA It’s him. He always has to speak. SAOUSAN Your brother’s right. You are a big boy now, my eyes. She touches his face. SAWSAN (CON’T) And I promise, tomorrow night I will spend the night with you and bring Salma also. MUSTAFA But I want tonight! SAOUASSAN Mustafa please! I said tomorrow! Mustafa looks at her sadly but with resignation. MUSTAFA You promise? SAOUASSAN Promise. Mustafa smiles, having gotten what he wants. Sawsan kisses him. SAWSAN (CON’T) Good night, my eyes. Sleep well.
  • 15. INT. BOMB SHELTER WOMEN’S SECTION NIGHT Sawsan now returns to the women’s section where her teen- age daughter, Shayma, is in her bed writing in her diary. Her best friend, Bouchra, is in the bed beside her. SAWSAN Time to sleep, my eyes. SHAYMA Yes, Mama. Sawsan moves closer to Shayma, caressing her hair. SHAYMA (CON’T) Mama, do you remember the dress we saw last week? SAWSAN Yes, the pinkish one? SHAYMA Yes yes, that one, I would love to have it for Eid when Grandma visit us so she can do some adjustments. SAWSAN Yes sure, will have to remember the shop where we saw it! SHAYMA Easy. It’s just near Ibn Sina pharmacy. SAOUASSAN OK, yes, yes. Now I remember. I’ll buy it for you tomorrow. Souassan stands up. BOUCHRA Hmmm, how lucky you are to get a new dress. SHAYMA Yessss, I just fell in love with it the instant I saw it... Sawsan smiles at their youthful excitement and leaves the teenagers chatting together. (CONTINUED)
  • CONTINUED: 16. SHAYMA Bouchra, I can’t believe that you haven’t pick up your wedding dress by now. (to the other girls) Tomorrow we will all help you choose it. Shayma notices that Bouchra is very quiet, a sure sign that something is troubling her. SHAYMA What’s wrong, Bouchra? After a pause.. BOUCHRA How can I even think about a dress when I don’t even know him? SHAYMA What do you mean you don’t know him? You and Ahmed has been in the same class together since you were kids. BOUCHRA Just because you go to school together doesn’t mean you know someone. NADA Then get to know him. BOUCHRA How? He’s so shy. He hardly ever says a word. SHAYMA So start a conversation. BOUCHRA About what? NADA Something... anything. Something that guys like. BOUCHRA What do guys like? (CONTINUED)
  • CONTINUED: 17. SHAYMA Kung Fu! He spends all his time in the shelter watching Bruce Lee movies with my brothers . Shayma is very proud of having found a subject for her friend. SHAYMA (CON’T) Yes, talk to him about that. The lights of the shelter begin to turn off. SHELTER PEOPLE begin to settle down for the night. EXT. AL-AMIRIYA SHELTER NIGHT Outside, the last of the lights of the shelter progressively switch off one by one. Sawsan opens the heavy metal door and leaves the shelter. In the shadows, an OLD WOMAN IN BLACK, wearing the tradit- ional abaya, notices the mother leaving. Wrinkled by time, the old woman has a cold, almost frightening expression in her eyes. Sawsan who passes near her sees the old woman staring at her strangely and insistently, Sawsan, without fear returns the look, smiles and greets her. SAWSAN Salam Oualikoum, aunty. The old woman does not answer; instead she turns her back on Sawsan and walks back into the darkness... INTERESTED TO READ MORE? PLEASE EMAIL ME ON SIHAMOUR@HOTMAIL.COM...