12/05/2010 13:00

“Son of Babylon” – Al-Daradji’s latest project

Guest at this year’s Cinema City Festival is Mohamed Al-Daradji, world renowned Iraqi director who, despite war turmoil of 2003 and its consequences, managed to create feature films in his native country. Today the situation in domain of Iraqi cinematography is somewhat different due to successful screenings of Iraqi films across the world. This change is greatly influenced by Al-Daradji’s efforts in creating new film status in Iraq.

Even after Saddam’s demise, basic conditions of making films remain extremely difficult for Iraqi directors. Nevertheless, Al-Daradji managed to complete the making of “Dreams” and to also create a documentary “War, Love, God and Madness” which tells a story on circumstances that followed the creating of his film debut. According to him, one of main obstacles in creating films in Iraq is that same existential risk. While working on “Dreams” Al-Daradji was kidnapped twice, and later arrested by the American army under indictment of making a propaganda video for Al-Qaeda. Circumstances that followed shooting of his newest accomplishment “Son of Babylon” were different, due to protection the film crew received from Iraqi military and police forces. Second greatest obstacle in development of Iraqi cinematography is lack of means and funds to support new film productions.

“Son of Babylon” follows a boy and his grandmother who embark on a large-scale search for their relatives who went missing during the war. One of film’s messages is reconciliation by means of facing the horrors the country endured but also an active search for more than one million Iraqis who went missing during Saddam’s rule. His lead hero is a Kurd and that choice is director’s way of emphasizing sense of confusion caused by misunderstanding and language barriers which this hero has to overcome on his journey. According to Al-Daradji, the film speaks of Iraqi past and present. The basis for this film Al-Daradji found in a tragic case from his own family. In explanation, his aunt never managed to find her son after the war.

Al-Daradji is a shining example of perseverance and creativity who never allowed himself to be undaunted even by the most dangerous of circumstances. His contribution is greatly the cause of today’s state of Iraqi cinematography and a reason it continues to make big strides despite still unfavorable political, social and economic conditions.