Out Of Iraq is a love story to rival Romeo and Juliet, but without the unfortunate ending. The documentary premiered recently at the LA Film Festival, and follows Nayyef Hrebid, a translator working for the U.S. military, and Btoo Allami, a former soldier in the Iraqi army, who fell in love during the United States' invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Speaking to TIME, Hrebid recounts the pair's first kiss, saying: “We were on a mission and I’m still not completely sure if he’s gay or not, and same thing for him. But I feel he is, just the way I look into his eyes."
As the soldiers sat together, Allami told Hrebid that he loved him, and they "just started kissing each other".
Hrebid says that "everything changed" during the kiss, because he knew his feelings were reciprocated.
Allami agrees with Hrebid, saying that he "did not eat anything" for two days after they kissed because he was so happy.
"The feeling was amazing," Allami says. "I thought, ‘He is my life.’”
Of course, it goes without saying that a romance between two gay Iraqi soldiers is not one without complications, but Hrebid, who is now living in Washington State with Allami, says that this is a story where love conquers all.
“It wasn’t completely happy because we were still hiding," he explains. "When we would meet on vacation together, we go to a different city where no one recognized us. We’d book the hotel as friends and we’d be there as friends and we could only be ourselves inside this room. The feeling just of being together was so beautiful. At the same time, we know what’s going to happen if [others] find out about us or our relationship.”
Read the entire interview here.