11/05/2010 09:31

Al-Daradji’s “Dreams” at Cinema City Festival

Mohamed Al-Daradji’s extraordinary film debut “Dreams” (Ahlaam) pulls viewers into horrible madness of occupied Baghdad in 2003. Multiple winner film follows destinies of three Iraqi men, comparing similarities and differences of their lives during American occupation and Saddam’s brutal dictatorship. One of lead heroes, a loyal soldier named Ali, ends up in a mental institution after Saddam’s followers kidnapped his fiancée just before the wedding. During American bombing, the hospital is ruined and Ali goes in search of the missing patients… Faced with reality, the patients flee from local gangs, American soldiers and deadly bombs.

A special value to this film comes from the fact that film crew worked perseveringly despite continuous life threatening situations they had to endure during shooting. Making a film in Iraq, even after the fall of Saddam is still a very difficult and thankless job. Despite that, Al-Daradji managed to finish “Dreams”, a film both beautiful and frightening, and then make a documentary “War, Love, God and Madness” on events and circumstances that followed the making of “Dreams”. While creating his film debut, this Iraqi director was kidnapped twice, and then arrested under indictment of making a propaganda video for Al-Qaeda. According to Al-Daradji, when shooting a film in Iraq, main problem is that same existential risk, while second big obstacle in development of Iraqi cinematography is lack of means and funds to support new film productions.