Traveling in an old car, young Iraqi filmmakers had taken off at noon Feb. 18 from the headquarters of the Iraqi Independent Film Center on Al-Rasheed Street, heading toward the National Theater.
They were accompanied by a folk music band to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the center and the 12th year of independent Iraqi cinema.
The first Iraqi feature film to be made after the fall of the Baathist regime was “Ghayr Saleh” (“Invalid”), directed by Oday Rasheed. The movie was produced independently. Following that came British director Mohammed Darraji’s “Dreams,” which tackles the chaos that spread in Iraq over the last three decades.
Iraq’s Independent Film Center is a dream come true for young people who aspire to make cinematic productions that do not follow any ideology nor succumb to the whims of the government, but instead reflect real life concerns, all the while meeting technical and international standards.
Iraq does not have a long history of filmmaking, with just 100 films from the declaration of the Iraqi state in 1921 to the fall of President Saddam Hussein in 2003. Most of the films produced were aimed at mobilizing people. They praised the Iraq-Iran War of the 1980s and Hussein, while others were purely commercial, including mediocre comedies.
During the Feb. 18 celebration, the Independent Film Center showed six feature and short films, some of which had won awards at international festivals. Among them was director Salman Salman’s “Hadiaat Abi” (“Gift of My Father”), which won the the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival’s Crystal Bear Award. Organizers distributed a document detailing the center’s productions over the past six years.