Later this month, a free online film festival will run that is dedicated to independent films both from and about Iraq.
The Independent Iraqi Film Festival will screen a total of 13 films between Friday, August 21, to Friday, August 28.
The free and online programme will screen films at 7.30pm UAE time throughout the festival via its official website.
The festival is run by a team of volunteers, including Shahnaz Dulaimy, a feature film editor who has worked on a number of award-winning productions including Naji Abu Nowar's Theeb and Annemarie Jacir's When I Saw You.
Also involved is Israa Al-Kamali, a poet whose work explores themes of identity, exile, trauma and deconstructing language; Ahmed Habib, who is part of the editorial team of Shakomako.net; and Roisin Tapponi, an Irish-Iraqi writer who founded the Habibi Collective, a platform dedicated to shining a spotlight on female filmmakers in the Middle East.
“The essence of what we want to do through IIFF is to empower directors, actors, screenwriters, producers, designers, sound artists and other creatives to tell the story of Iraq, the resilience of its people, and the breadth of its culture to a global audience,” the organisers said in statement posted on the festival's Instagram page.
The festival’s organisers launched an open call for submissions from Iraqi filmmakers in early June. Following the submission deadline on June 21, the team went through more than 80 submissions.
What are some of the films screening?
The programme includes a number of features by established filmmakers, including the thriller Baghdad in My Shadow by the director Samir. The film was presented out of competition at the Locarno Film Festival in 2019. It brings together three different characters who visit an Iraqi cafe in London.
The festival also features the documentary Mirrors of Diaspora, by Kasim Abid, a story of seven Iraqi artists who live outside the country, detailing their exile, creativity, alienation, memories and nostalgia.
Mohamed Al-Daradji's 2008 War, Love, God and Madness will also be streamed: the film follows the director's efforts in making a film in Iraq during the war after having been outside of the country for many years.
There are also a number of short films by up-and-coming filmmakers scheduled to screen during the festival, including Sabeya by Dhyaa Joda, Mouthwash by Reman Sadani and Um Abdullah by Sahar Al Sawaf.
There will also be a talk on Sunday, August 23 featuring members of both the Habibi Collective and Shakomako.net, discussing the power of film to inspire social change.
For more information about the festival programme, visit iiffestival.com