If You Think USC or NYU Is Difficult, Try Baghdad Film School

by Anthony Kaufman
June 12, 2006 5:18 AM
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"Two students have had relatives kidnapped, one had a cousin badly injured by a bomb, another lost an uncle in an explosion, and a shop owner in the same building as the school was kidnapped." And film students at USC and NYU thought they had challenges? The above description comes from Variety contributor Ali Jaafar, who reports in a story "Learning the hard way" about the troubles students face at the Independent Film & Television College in Baghdad, which opened in 2004 and offers free intensive filmmaking courses.

Despite the strife, and the fact that can't advertise for fear of violent retribution from fundamentalist gangs, the film school offers hope, according to founders and once exiled Iraqi filmmakers Kasim Abid and Maysoon Pachachi.

"Even I don't know how, but every day they keep coming and concentrating," Abid told Variety. "Sometimes I think, what can a film do in this situation when there's no meaning to life. But this is a period for Iraq that needs to be recorded for history."

I'd already heard about the country first's post-invasion feature, Oday Racheed's "Underexposure," which received mix reviews out of Rotterdam, but I have not yet heard news on Mohamed Al-Daradji's "Ahlaam," which played at the Seattle Film Festival in May. Is there an Iraqi film wave on the horizon?

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