In a world where one’s middle-class neighbors get shot at their front door, where citizens are afraid to venture across town after dark and where the fear of bombings is neverending, it is a novelty if foreigners are not kidnapped. This is the world of a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, and a world we cannot even begin to fathom. The documentary “The Liberace of Baghdad” portrays Iraq through the eyes of a famous Iraqi pianist, Samir Peter, and his family. Filmmaker Sean McAllister originally went to Iraq intent on filming Hussien’s pending trial. Upon his arrival, McAllister found a more intriguing subject in hotel performer Peter. Once a celebrated Iraqi musician, Peter was once the self-proclaimed “Liberace of Baghdad.” Now, Peter earns his living entertaining journalists, security guards and tourists who are willing to listen. Though Peter hopes to get a visa and move his family to America, he is afraid to leave his daughter behind. Unlike her father, the young girl is sympathetic to Hussein and loyal to her birth nation.
The film beautifully exposes the international community to what is going on in present-day Iraq. Peter tells McAllister, “Americans are stealing my country. We have Bush to thank for ending the nightmare of Saddam, but now we have [a] new nightmare.” Through the viewpoint of the compassionate Peter, the audience is opened up to the absolute terror and everyday struggles of an Iraqi citizen. The film displays Iraq and all it’s modern-day dangers, but at the core of “The Liberace of Baghdad” is the relationship between a man concerned with the safety of his friends his beloved family in a war-torn country.