a feature-film in development
A suspected war criminal must remember his past in order to prove his innocence. But as he pieces together his memories and true sins, one of his victims is hunting him down with a vengeance.
Present-day Beirut. Ahmad Zakariya is a man who has lost his past. Because of an old war injury all he remembers of his youth are a few broken memories. His struggle to make sense of these images continues into his dreams, where he is tormented by a recurring nightmare, in which he sees himself as a young Iraqi soldier brutally strangling and killing beautiful black horses.
One day he is rounded up with other refugees living illegally in the city. His processing reveals he is a wanted man – there is a warrant for his arrest, for his supposed part as a young soldier in the mass slaughter of Kurdish civilians twenty years ago.
Despite his memory loss, Ahmad is convinced he could never have committed these crimes. And so too is his lawyer, Stefan, who believes the charges are trumped up and a diversion from the true perpetrators. But he warns Ahmad he will be deported to Baghdad to stand trial and executed if found guilty – they have to prove his innocence before that happens.
The two men begin rebuilding Ahmad’s past and whereabouts during the dates in question. He fleshes out his childhood and it’s warm memories of family and home. But as those idyllic moments become engulfed by dark memories of his service in an apocalyptic war, he can’t help but feel he is guilty of something terrible. He questions his own innocence and looks to the black horses in his nightmares for answers. What do they actually represent? Could the heinous charges against him actually be true?
As his client’s psyche unravels, Stefan also grows conflicted – does he continue on his own to prove his client’s innocence or has he in fact been defending a war criminal?
With the past engulfing the present, the truth of Ahmad’s crimes is coming for them both with a vengeance.
For updates check: ‘shelter’ blog updates
developed with the assistance of: