Abbas Fahdel – Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) (2015)

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What would you do if the world’s most fearsome military presence threatened to invade where you live? How does one even begin to prepare for that kind of assault? In “Homeland (Iraq Year Zero),” Baghdad-situated filmmaker Abbas Fahdel offers world audiences an extraordinary opportunity to identify with the “enemy” in the Iraq War — conveniently faceless in most Western coverage, but humanized here by members of Fahdel’s own family. Clocking in at nearly six hours and presented in what may feel like raw homevideo form, this transformative verite glimpse into the lives of everyday Iraqis demands both patience and empathy to sit through, but the reward is worth every second, as an extremely limited number of courageous programmers and curious audiences can attest. Continue reading

Shawkat Amin Korki – Bîranînen li ser kevirî AKA Memories on Stone (2014)

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Kurdish childhood friends Hussein and Alan would like to direct and produce a film in their homeland of Iraqi Kurdistan about the genocide of Kurdish people in Iraq, the Anfal military operation in 1988, that led to the murder of more than 182,000 Kurds. They learn that, to achieve veracity by the means of cinema and to face their own identity, it’s worth putting everything on the line – even their own life. The viewer follows the entire crew’s efforts to achieve the goal of making the film despite the numerous problems that accompany the shoot. They are forced to struggle with inadequate financing, the mistrust of the local inhabitants, the exaggerated and inappropriate demands of a nationally-adored movie star, and to fight the disapproval of Sinur’s father, even though the young woman would love to take on the starring role… Continue reading