Iraq, no country for filmmakers

Wars, dictatorship and violence has blocked the way to Iraq to develop a film industry of their own. 

Film as a catharsis but also as a motor of change in a society, that after decades of violence is starting to breath.  


Filming among bombs and terrorist attacks is a real heroic deed.  Mohamed Al-Dajadji and his crew were kidnapped, tortured and jailed while shooting their first feature film.  “In Iraq it is common to shoot and go, we cannot stay in the same location for more than 3 days for safety reasons” says the Iraqi filmmaker to En Portada.

With the invasion leaded by the Americans and the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, several filmmakers who could not work during the dictatorship returned to the country determined to film.  Shootings happen in extreme conditions: they came back to a country at war where there is no room for arts or culture.  The continuous wars, Saddam’s dictatorship, the international embargo, the sectarian violence and Daesh terrorism has stopped Iraq to develop a film industry of their own.  I come from the war generation, I have seen too much blood” confesses Al –Daridji.

There is no technical equipment, it is really hard to find professional crew and the government is not helping to develop this business.  There are no private companies to shoot movies.  The government has not even shot a single frame during the last 5 years” regrets the filmmaker Raad Mushatat.  “Corruption is all over the place.  It has become in a kind of culture” denounces Al-Daradji.

Despite all this, Mohamed-Al-Dajadji and other filmmakers have managed the impossible.  They have created the Iraqi Film Independent Center “in a country where you cannot be independent”, highlights the filmmaker.  His feature film “Son of Babylon” managed to change legislation to investigate the disappearances in mass graves sites during Saddam days.  His film “The decision” made it to the Oscars and it is the first Iraqi movie shown in theaters in 27 years.

Film as a catharsis, but also as a motor of change in a society, that after decades of violence, is recovering, little by little, calmness.  In Bagdad there are brand new theaters in shopping malls, with a full-house almost every night of the week.  Paradoxically, those are colonized by American movies.




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