An ethnographic performative documentary about the Edinburgh-based exiled Kurdish composer Mohamed Abbas Bharam – one of many prominent Kurdish musicians residing in western Europe since the mid-1970s. In 1976, M. A. Bharam was sacked from his Baghdad position in Iraqi radio and television for refusing to perform at a Ba’thist Party convention, celebrating the leadership of Sadam Hussein. The title of the film Silent Song alludes to the poem ‘My Song Will Be Silent’, written in 1976 by the Kurdish radio and television broadcaster Bakhtiyar Isma’il Siyamansoori as a tribute to Bahram’s defiant gesture against the Ba’thist regime in Bahgdad. Translated into a musical score before his departure from Kurdistan, it was not until August 2000 that ‘My Song Will Be Silent’ was first recorded and performed for the film at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. In re-enacting the song through an audio-visual medium, alongside the documentary’s reflexive use of new and old communication technologies characteristic of an evolving Kurdish listening public, the position of the diasporic Kurdish musician as both social actor and performer is narrated.
Aine O'Brien is Head, Department of Media Technologies, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. Her work moves fluidly between documentary production and critical written engagement with visual epistemology and ethno-graphic method. She is currently researching and co-directing with Alan Grossman an ethnographic documentary on the subject of migrant Eastern European Jewish labour practices in Dublin in the early 1900.
Alan Grossman is a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Media Technologies, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. He has a longstanding visual ethnographic involvement with the cultural politics of migration and diasporic formations in a variety of transnational contexts.