JADDOLAND explores the meaning of home and the search for belonging across generations. When the filmmaker returns to her hometown in the Texas panhandle to visit her mother, an artist from Iraq, she turns her lens on her mother’s increasingly isolated life, as well as the beauty and solace that emerge through her creative process. Soon, the filmmaker’s charismatic grandfather arrives from Iraq, prompting the filmmaker on a deeper search to understand her own roots and connections to the places she calls home.
When I began filming Jaddoland, my mother was living and working out of her home art studio in Lubbock, Texas, creating a series of paintings that used the Texas and Iraq landscapes interchangeably. As a child, I remember watching her working in this same studio late into the night, sifting through old family photos and handwritten letters in Arabic, reassembling a story that had been scattered across languages and geographies. In the solitude of her self-made sanctuary, making images was a way for her to understand the strange trajectories and layers of her own life.
Her experience of diaspora and dislocation had not only shaped her life and work, but my own as well. As the child of immigrants, I often moved back and forth between cultures, identities and expectations. As a result, when I began to make films, I discovered that I saw a world of double exposure – where the presence of here was always imprinted upon the absence of there, where “home” and “back home” often coexisted within the same frame.
As I moved between filming and editing, languorous summer days found expression in long uninterrupted takes, while the slippage of memory took form in archival interludes or playful tangents. While my mom worked in her studio, I retraced familiar paths around my neighborhood, traversing the distance between who we were and who we had become. Along the way, our parallel creative processes intertwined and tangled in moments of shared confusion and catharsis. I had inherited my mother’s lens, but in the act of framing and reframing, I was also making it my own.
At a time when so many immigrant stories are framed as narratives of crisis, Jaddoland was a way to quietly explore our own experience while forging our own language to describe it—one that embraced beauty and mystery, the textures of our longing and desires, and a reimagining of our relationships to home. When I began, I didn’t yet call myself an artist and what I was making was not yet a film. The camera was simply a way to hold the things that I loved close to me, and to tell our story in a language that was our own.