1979 was a watershed year of history. It began with the Islamic revolution in Iran, and ended with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In between, Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel, Saddam Hussein took power in Iraq, China invaded Vietnam, Margaret Thatcher became the UK’s first female Prime Minister, Mohammed Zia ul-Haq hanged Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Bhutto and begins nuclear proliferation with India, the hostage crisis began at the US-embassy in Tehran... Yet, he most pivotal event of 1979 is still shrouded in layers of secrets.
Director Dirk van den Berg lifts the veil on an earth-shattering event with lasting consequences on our present, in this French-German co-production with Pascal Verroust and his K2 Productions (Paris), sustained by ARTE France; Germany's NDR, WDR, HR, RBB; Austria's ORF; the Hamburg Film Fund; INA France; the CNC and PBS Distribution.
Our film understands itself as a missing link to understand how a single event became pivotal for world history and as some say, mark the beginning of our modern era. A missing link in the understanding of the turmoil created by the rise of religiously motivated extremism of the last four decades. A missing link into the Middle East, a region we still know far too little about. And a missing link to the Kingdom Saudi Arabia, home and epicenter of Islam, a country as hermetic as it is crucial for the world's progress, and as rooted in tradition as it is pushing for major change.
More than four years of work allowed exclusive access to archives and first-hand accounts from Arab, French, German and American military, intelligence and civilian sources. They allow THE SIEGE O F MECCA to debunk the simplistic equations of "good" and "evil", "us" and "them". And to comprehend the roots of the very Islamist extremist terror that is afflicting the world since 1979.
written & directed by
DIRK VAN DEN BERG
HENRIK SAUER bvk
PASCAL VERROUST and
DIRK VAN DEN BERG
documentary, 75' & 52'
English, French, Arabic
France / Germany - 2018