Sunday, November 05, 2017
Film about Kasser Shashoua, through female eyes
Kasser Shashoua, a riverside Jewish villa once lived in by King Faisal of Iraq, is to be the subject of a film released in 2018 by Hussain al Hilli. It is the story of this remarkable mansion through the reminiscences of two women, one Arab, one Jewish, with associations to the house - Rabiha and Lisette.
promo video here.
Kasser Shashoua, a large castle built on the banks of the river Tigris in Baghdad by a wealthy Jewish tea merchant, has become the stuff of legend. Many stories have been written about it along the lines of: Kasser Shashoua - myth or reality?
In the early 1920s when the British appointed the Emir Faisal to be the king of Iraq there were no palaces fit for a king: Baghdad had ceased to be a capital for 400 years under the Ottoman empire. Gertrude Bell, the British writer and diplomat, sailed a balam (skiff) along the river Tigris in search of a suitable residence.
King Faisal inspected several Jewish-owned riverside villas. Violette Shamash in Memories of Eden recalls that King Faisal visited the kasser her own father had built on the Tigris. But Faisal's first choice for a royal residence was Kasser Shashoua. It was rented from the owner, Shaul Shashoua, for two years or more, until a new palace could be built for the king.
Kasser Shashoua, a palace fit for a king?