Screening: Ahlaam (Dreams)

October 3, 2011

Join AAFSC and Alwan for the Arts for a free screening of Ahlaam (Dreams) on October 13th at 7:00 PM at 150 Court Street, 3rd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

Ahlaam by Mohamed Al-Daradji Iraq, UK, Netherlands, 2006, 110 minutes.

This remarkable first feature film from Mohamed Al-Daradji follows the lives of three Iraqi individuals forced onto the war-torn streets of Baghdad after the US invasion destroys an insane asylum. Among these wanderers is Ahlaam who had lived in the institution since the kidnapping of her husband on their wedding day by Saddam’s police. She deliriously roams through the chaotic and perilous streets slipping in and out of hallucinations. Fellow patient and former soldier Ali, devastated by the US bombardment and the subsequent loss of his best friend in battle, finds purpose in foolhardily braving the fallen city in search of surviving patients. Under-appreciated Dr. Medhi entertains dreams of a free and peaceful Iraq despite the desolation surrounding him and the burden of his father’s political past.

Awards 2006: Prix Maroun Bagdadi, Prix Spécial du Jury. Institut Du Monde Arabe, Paris, France 2006: The Best Film Award by the Indonesian associate of filmmaker in The 1st JAFF 2006: Bangladesh International Film Festival best film 2006: NETPAC Best Film 2006: Top 10 Audience Choice Rotterdam International Film Festival 2005: Nominated Best Arab Film Cairo International Film Festival 2006: Special mention award, Festroia international film festival, Portugal 2006: Best Spiritual Film from Brooklyn International Film Festival 2006: Best Male Actor Bashir Al-Majid from Brooklyn International Film Festival

Mohammed Al-Darraji (born 6 August 1978 in Baghdad, Iraq) studied theatre directing in Baghdad and went to The Netherlands in 1995, where he specialised as a cameraman. Later he graduated with two MA’s in cinematography and directing in Leeds at The Northern Film School[1]. He created several short films and commercials. In 2005 he established Human Film a Leeds based production company with his producer Isabelle Stead. His first features Ahlaam took four months to film in 2004, in Baghdad while the war was raging. His 2010 film Son of Babylon that he developed through the Sundance Institute was selected as the Iraqi entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards. IIn 2010 Variety named Mohamed Al-Daradji The Middle East Filmmaker of the year.

The intention of this film series and collaboration between Alwan and The Arab American Family Support Center is to provide film screenings outside of Alwan’s traditional locales in an attempt to engage diverse communities and expose a multiplicity of audiences to Arab culture. The curatorial hypothesis of the series, which showcases the missions of both sponsoring institutions, is meant to assert the primacy and absolute relevance of the social in aesthetic representation. The selected films highlight social issues that are of concern to the public at large and particularly pertinent to the Arab community. While understandably a good portion of the films are from the Arab world, they are works that address issues of migration, mobility, family relations, and gender, to name but a few themes that are at once universally paradigmatic and intensely anchored to the historical narrative of the nascent Arab American community. Other film selections will be of emerging Arab American talent which naturally dwells on questions of identity, integration, nostalgia, all in all critically examining the formation of the hyphenated Arab-American who is the core recipient of services provided by Alwan and The Arab American Family Support Center.