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French filmmaker reveals 'Uncle Saddam'

Swimming in the Tigris, fishing with hand grenades

The film shows Saddam being
The film shows Saddam being "greeted with a kiss in the armpit."

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CNN's Paula Zahn talks to the filmmaker who made the documentary 'Uncle Saddam,' which shows the Iraqi president up-close and personal. (November 22)
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(CNN) -- A French filmmaker finagled his way into Iraq claiming he was working on a project about the country's architecture. Two months after his arrival, with Iraqi power brokers feeling comfortable with his presence, Joel Soler began shooting his actual project, a documentary about Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein.

CNN anchor Paula Zahn interviewed him recently about his documentary, "Uncle Saddam."


NARRATOR: The first thing that Saddam Hussein does every morning when he wakes up at 5:00 a.m. is to have some coffee. Then, he takes care of his personal hygiene. This is especially important because Saddam prefers to be greeted with a kiss in the armpit.

HUSSEIN: It's preferable to bathe twice a day, but at least once a day. And when the male bathes once a day, the female should bathe twice a day.


SOLER: Do you know why Saddam thinks that the woman should shower twice a day? Because, according to Saddam Hussein, he thinks that the smell of the woman is more noticeable than (the smell of) men.

All of that hygiene, even diet, it's national talk. I mean, when he goes on camera, even for his diet, saying, you know, this month I'm going on a diet. And of course, when he goes on a diet, everybody around him has to go on a diet.

ZAHN: And what does Saddam like to do for fun? He likes to swim


NARRATOR: During his rare free time, Saddam enjoys relaxing near the Tigris River, playing games in the water and swimming.

It's no secret why Saddam is Iraq's biggest heartthrob. In the '70s, he was often seen picnicking with his family and getting about on their boat.


SOLER: That really surprised me. I was expecting, you know, Saddam Hussein, the evil guy from Baghdad. And I guess you can be evil and campy.

ZAHN: And, one of Saddam's more campy hobbies is how he allegedly goes fishing.


NARRATOR: Saddam loves to eat fish, especially ones he caught himself. Fishing with grenades seems to do the trick. Later, when it's safe, a couple of buddies in scuba gear will retrieve the catch.


ZAHN: It is amazing to me that you have video actually showing that. Where did you get that video?

SOLER: This is one of the cousins of Saddam's fishing with grenades. It's not Saddam himself. And -- but you know all of his entourage told him about them, and they're proud of it. I mean, it's fun. It's a fun thing to do during the weekend.

ZAHN: And they said that without any sense of embarrassment when they told you about this pastime?

start quoteI was expecting, you know, Saddam Hussein, the evil guy from Baghdad. And I guess you can be evil and campy.end quote
-- Joel Soler

SOLER: No ...

ZAHN: And Saddam Hussein, they claimed, did this as well?

SOLER: Yes. I mean, it's like -- it's something very normal for them.

ZAHN: And one more interesting note about the man who is suspected of developing biological weapons, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons: Saddam is terrified of germs. When one meets him, according to this documentary, there are rules issued by doctors about shaking his hand and standing too close to him.

"Uncle Saddam" airs November 26 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on Cinemax, and over the next couple of days, CNN will show more of this video.

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