Followed by Q &A with Maysoon Pachachi, Iraqi filmmaker/co-founder of Independent Film & Television College (Baghdad)
Co-Sponsored by the Department of Gender and Womens Studies
In 2004, Independent Film & Television College was set up in Baghdad by 2 London-based Iraqi filmmakers, to provide a free-of-charge basic film training to young Iraqis and enable them to put their thoughts and stories on the screen. The security situation in Iraq has forced the school to close down periodically, but by remaining flexible, patient and by improvising, students and teachers have largely managed to carry on. Students at the school have now produced 15 short documentary films which have been screened around the world. Some have won festival prizes.
A Candle for the Shabandar Cafe (23 mins) (directed by Emad Ali, 2007)
Founded in 1917, the Shabandar Café in Al Mutanabbi Street in the heart of the old centre of Baghdad, was a cultural landmark, where generations of Iraqis came to discuss and debate literature and politics - a living repository of Iraqi intellectual history and one of the last places where people could gather to exchange ideas. Emad had shot most of his film by the end of 2006, but in March 2007, a massive car bomb destroyed the Shabandar Café, all the bookshops on Al Mutanabbi Street and killed and wounded scores of people. Days later, Baghdads poets and artists held a wake in the ruins of the street they loved so much and Emad took a small camera and went back to film. As he was leaving he was attacked, his camera stolen and he was shot in the legs and chest, and his own story is an epilogue to his film about the Shabandar Café and Mutanabbi Street - before and after they were destroyed.
A Stranger In His Own Country (10 mins) (directed by Hassanain al Hani, 2007)
Thousands of Iraqis have been displaced by sectarian violence and have had to seek refuge in other parts of the country. This is a portrait of Abu Ali, a refugee from Kirkuk living in a displaced persons camp on the outskirts of Kerbala. He is a peace-loving man with a keen sense of justice, trying to find a way to survive and provide for his family in the difficult circumstances in which they now find themselves.
Dr Nabil (15 mins) (directed by Ahmed Jabbar, 2007)
A gentle and committed surgeon, with literary talents, works at a small understaffed Baghdad hospital, which suffers from lack of equipment and medicines. While many other doctors have been killed or have fled the country in fear of their lives, Dr Nabil has decided to stay. He worries, though, about the effect that the atmosphere of violence and brutality is having on his young son.
Leaving (23 mins) (directed by Bahram Al Zuhairi, 2007)
Threatened with kidnap and facing escalating and horrific violence in their neighborhood, a Mandaean family from Baghdad reaches the difficult decision to leave their home of more than 30 years and go to live in Damascus. The film documents the painful process of selling all their goods and dividing up their house so it can be rented out and finally it records their dangerous road trip to the Syrian border and their arrival to their new, temporary home.