Friday, 15 June 2018

Another Day in Baghdad – Iraqi women tell their stories

Maysoon Pachachi and crew members

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a wonderful event at the Royal Court Theatre in London: a fundraiser for “Another Day in Baghdad”, a film, which tells the story of post-invasion Iraq from a women’s perspective and that of ordinary citizens. It is the first ever-Iraqi feature film authored by Iraqi women - and it unites cast and crew from the Middle East and Europe.

The fundraiser started with a short documentary about the recent test shoot (which you can view here), followed by a reading of part of the film’ script by 14 actors, including, to my delight, the mesmerizing Ben Whishaw and Lizzie Wells (Matilda The Musical).   

I was deeply moved by the script, but also the aim of the film and the way it is being developed – and since they still need to raise £19,600 in order to be able to film in Iraq and support Iraqi talent, I wanted to help spread the word.
“Another Day in Baghdad” is based on journal notes and the real life experiences of the two female authors - Irada Al Jabbouri, a Baghdad-based novelist, and Maysoon Pachachi, a London-based filmmaker of Iraqi origin.  The film tells the intersecting stories of ordinary citizens, unfolding in the last week of 2006 in Baghdad. All the characters are Iraqi and many are strong female ones.  

“The time of extreme sectarian violence in which our story takes place foreshadows what is happening in Iraq and the Middle East at the moment,” says Pachachi. “We feel that in the context of the extreme militarized male violence we are seeing in the Middle East, it is crucial to have stories told from a female perspective.

 “These stories are absent in the media and absent from the conscience of the world. Iraq has been presented for decades as a source of evil and cruelty and a threat to its neighbours and the world,” Pachachi adds.  “We feel that it’s especially important now for stories of individual resistance and hope to be told about the area, where so many still maintain solidarity with one another as human beings, in spite of the intensely divisive pressures of religion and politics, with which they are living.”

Co-written by Pachachi and Al Jabbouri, the script won the IWC Schaffhausen Script Award – presented by Cate Blanchett in 2012.

Pachachi and Al Jabbouri have secured the funding needed for filming in Jordan, as well as for the post-production of the film in Europe, but are now raising funds to shoot in Baghdad - where the light and the river are irreplaceable - and hire Iraqi cast and crew.  Part of the film will also be shot in Jordan with Iraqi refugee actors.  

“For Iraqis inside and outside Iraq, opportunities to shape their own narratives – far from Hollywood-style fiction and newscasts – are limited. Through this film, we aim to generate an authentic and meaningful opportunity for Iraqi actors and filmmakers." Pachachi says.

In 2004, she co-founded a free film-training centre in Baghdad and has taught film directing and editing in Britain and Palestine. 

If you want to support this project, you can contribute here.

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