One of Iraq’s prominent filmmakers working in the region today, multi award winning Mohamed Al-Daradji‘s films have been screened at several of our Iraqi festivals.
Iraqi filmmaker and co-founder of the production companies, Human Film & Iraq Al-Rafidain, Mohamed was born in Baghdad and travelled to the Netherlands to study film at the Media Academy in Hilversum before moving to the UK to complete two masters degrees in cinematography and directing. Following the collapse of Saddam’s regime in 2003, Mohamed returned to Iraq to shoot his first feature film Ahlaam. Ahlaam provided an insight into the chaos and confusion of a war-torn Iraq following three decades of dictatorship, screening to world audiences at over 125 International Film Festivals, receiving over 23 awards and representing Iraq for Oscar and Golden Globe consideration in 2007. The documentary film Iraq; War, Love, God & Madness followed the success of Ahlaam, using authentic b-roll and behind the scenes footage to address the hardships of filming in Iraq.
In 2009 Mohamed shot his second feature film; the highly acclaimed Son of Babylon, which screened at Sundance and Berlin, receiving The Amnesty Film Award and the Peace Prize as well as a plethora of other accolades including the NETPAC Award at Karlovy Vary and a Special Mention at Edinburgh IFF. In conjunction with Son of Babylon, Mohamed launched the Iraq’s Missing Campaign; an international landmark campaign to raise awareness of the 1,00,000+ missing people in Iraq, a theme central to the heart Son of Babylon’s storyline.
Mohamed’s campaign work further extended with the release of his 2011 documentary film In My Mother’s Arms; a film that addresses the hardships and struggles face by a group of young orphans and their carers living in one of Baghdad’s most dangerous districts. The documentary brought to light the effects of years of prolonged war and poverty on some of Iraq’s most vulnerable and a funding campaign was launched to help ensure a brighter future for the films subjects.
In 2013, Mohamed completed his third feature film, In The Sands of Babylon. A companion piece to Son of Babylon, the film premiered at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, winning the award for Best Narrative Feature from the Arab World. Following a host of international screenings, In The Sands of Babylon was nominated for the Cinema For Peace Foundation’s prestigious Justice Award.
Since 2003, Mohamed has acted as spokesman and played an active role in the re-establishment and development of the Iraqi film industry, launching a number of initiatives to ensure a future for the industry including film workshops and year long academy programs for up and coming filmmakers and the introduction of the Iraqi Mobile Cinema which screens films in cities and regions across Iraq with the hope of improving democracy, freedom and artistic expression amongst Iraqi communities.
As one of Iraq’s only prominent filmmakers working in the region today, Mohamed strives for authenticity in his work, which has not gone unnoticed, both as an Iraqi and an International filmmaker. His films have earned him a multitude of awards and accolades, including being named Variety’s Middle Eastern Filmmaker of the year in 2011. Now residing in Baghdad, Iraq and Leeds, UK, he continues to push the boundaries of Iraqi cinema. His latest project Journey to God will begin shooting in October 2015. The concept was selected for Cannes IFF, L’ATELIER 2011 and received the Kocca Development Award at Busan IFF.