by Sydney Levine
December 9, 2010 2:30 AM 4 Comments
Son of Babylon film, has simultaneous global screenings to recognize 10th December, International Human Rights Day - including special UK solidarity screening at Leeds University Occupation. Leeds, UK 9th December, 2010 - Son of Babylon, Iraq’s official entry for the Golden Globes and Oscars 2011 will simultaneously screen internationally, giving new audiences the opportunity to see the extraordinary film by director Mohamed Al-Daradji. The film was made with the intent to raise awareness of the 1,000,000 + people who are currently missing in Iraq, as well as inspiring activism that will help find answers for their families. Human Film have arranged for the film's associated IRAQ'S MISSING CAMPAIGN and their distributors in the UK, Iraq, Mexico, Germany, Baghdad and Lebanon to work closely with other NGO's within each country to screen SON OF BABYLON in global solidarity of the humanitarian message of the film. The screenings will begin on the eve of International Human Rights Day in Berlin, hosted by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung foundation. Followed on the 10th December with simultaneous screenings at: Thessaloniki International Film Festival in Greece with a director Q&A. In Mexico, Plan B Distribution will co-host with Amnesty International, in attendance will be the Iraqi Ambassador of Mexico. In the UK the film will screen at Leeds University Occupation, in support of students currently in their second week of a sit-in to protest government fees changes. It will be followed by a Q&A with Producer Isabelle Stead who hopes the event will recognise and support the wide range of issues that the International Day of Human Rights seeks to highlight. The filmmakers will finish up later this month with solidarity screenings in Lebanon on the 21st December, hosted by ‘Act for the Disappeared’ campaigners and followed shortly in Baghdad with the 2nd Iraqi Mobile Cinema, where screenings have unfortunately had to be postponed due to security reasons. “These are important events for me personally and for the film's associated 'Iraq's Missing Campaign'. The sadness and suffering that Iraqis have incurred in recent history is something that motivates us in our on-going pursuits for answers and justice. I hope that international audiences will take inspiration from the film and approach the authorities, pushing them to get their act together and stand up for all human rights” Al-Daradji The International Human Rights events coincide with the confirmation that the IRAQ'S MISSING CAMPAIGN has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Human Rights in Iraq to help coordinate a strategy to tackle the issue of over 1,000,000 missing people. Following the solidarity screenings the nominations for Golden Globes will be closed and the filmmakers will learn if the film has been selected. The possibility of inclusion at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and the Oscars would mean the human rights atrocities that the film and campaign voice, could be propelled into the international spotlight, enabling significant steps to be made towards the reconciliation of Iraq. Son of Babylon’s Special Screenings: BERLIN, GERMANY – 9th Dec 2010, 6 pm, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Schumannstr. 8, 10117 BERLIN. Followed by panel discussion. Heinrich Böll Stiftung foundation: http://www.boell.de/service/home.html THESSALONIKI IFF, GREECE – 10 th Dec 2010, FRIDA LIAPPA: Friday, December 10, 2010 - 23:00 | ID:747 http://tiff.filmfestival.gr/default.aspx?lang=en-US&loc=9&page=891&movie=1843 UK - 10th Dec 2010, 7pm onwards, Michael Sadler Lecture Theatre, University of Leeds, LEEDS. Q&A with the Filmmakers. For more information please call 0113-243888 or email Kathryn AT humanfilm.co.uk MEXICO -10th Dec 2010, 10am Cinépolis Diana, MEXICO CITY. Special Guests: a representative of the Iraqi Embassy in México, Amnesty International México, a representative of Spain Embassy, a representative of the French Embassy members of the press will be present. Plan B: Distribution in Mexico http://www.planbdistribucion.com/ LEBANON: 21st TBC, Al Madina Theatre in HAMRA to announce the International Convention regarding enforced disappearance enter into force on December 23, 2010. IRAQ: TBC, BAGHDAD. Hosted by production company Iraq Al-Rafidain For information on the film or filmmakers or festivals bookings, press, EPK, marketing and interview opportunities please contact Human Film | Office +44 113 243 8880 | info AT humanfilm.co.uk Son of Babylon (2010) has succeeded in creating a bridge of unity between the West and the Middle East, through the shared vision of Human Film (UK/NL), Iraq Al-Rafidain (IRAQ), Crm-114 (FRANCE), Cinema Production Centre (Palestine), Sundance Institute (US), UK Film Council, Screen Yorkshire, UK Trade & Investment (UK), Fond Sud & CNC (France), Hivos, Doen, Nederland’s Fonds voor de Film and Rotterdam Media Fonds (Netherlands), Royal Film Commission (Jordan), Sunnyland Film ART, Mawred Fund (Egypt), Pyramedia and ADACH (UAE), world sales with Roissy Films, Paris. http:www.humanfilm.co.uk
IMC: The Iraq's Missing Campaign was established in 2010 to raise international awareness of Iraq's one million + people, arousing hope for reconciliation in Iraq whilst providing direct practical relief and support to the relatives of missing. The IMC was founded by Isabelle Stead (Producer), Mohamed Al-Daradji (Director) and Atia Al-Daradji (Producer) http://www.iraqsmissing.org http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/iraqs-missing-campaign http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVCS610R8Eg
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I saw Son of Babylon and cried. It is a beautiful film of a 12 year old Kurdish boy and his grandmother in Northern Iraq in 2003, two weeks after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Hearing that some prisoners of war have recently been found alive in the south, they go in search of her son, the boy's father, who was forcibly conscripted 11 years before. Their odyssey through the land, past American roadblocks, through killing fields where 1,000,000 people have perished or disappeared by Hussein's orders, as the boy and his grandmother meet others, the audience comes to realize the tragedy of the country and the sad fate of its people. After meeting the producer Isabelle Stead, we met the director. Iraqi filmmaker Mohamed Al-Daradji, who spoke to us at length. He spoke about how he went house to house searching for people to be in the movie and discovered the grandmother who has become an activist in the country on behalf of the disappeared and murdered, who has become a near legend in her village for bringing back the bones of her son through the barriers and borders of Iran to Iraq for a proper Muslim burial, a feat that no man dared. Mohamed Al-Daradji:
Iraq, 2003 at the time I was preparing for my first film Ahlaam I was walking along Al-Rashid Street in Baghdad when I heard breaking news from a radio coming from a nearby shop: mass graves had been discovered near Babylon. I stopped cold at that moment, since I could remember fathers and sons of family and friends had disappeared over the years. No family unaffected and no one dared ask why. I thought about my aunty whose son had gone missing 15 years before. It took me about an hour to gather myself again.
The first mass graves uncovered in Babylon hundreds of thousands of bodies, yet in the wave of chaos and occupation that hit Iraq during this time the majority have remained unidentified and forgotten. There has been little retrospect and thus people still need answers.
Inspired by the relationship I shared with my aunt, the idea came for Son of Babylon to bind two generations, the older steeped in suffering; the younger bearing hope for the future. A mother's search for her lost son; a boy’s journey to find himself and his father, each in the abyss I felt against the back drop of war and occupation as I struggled to comprehend the tragedy.
Over four years, day and night I prepared, wrote and cried whilst gathering the archival footage of what had happened. It’s not been easy for me to tell this story and it’s become much more than a film or piece of cinema to me and my team, it’s real and its aftermath echoes in the daily lives of those I love.
Mohamed Al-Daradji, is co-founder of multi-award-winning Human Film & Iraq Al-Rafidain. A Sundance fellow, Mohamed studied 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 make his first feature film Ahlaam and began hosting a series of 16mm & 35mm workshops aimed at underprivileged filmmakers in Iraq. Ahlaam provided an insight into the chaos and confusion of a war-torn Iraq following three decades of dictatorship. Ahlaam screened at over 125 International Film Festivals, received over 23 awards, and represented Iraq for Oscar and Golden Globe consideration in 2007. Along the way Mohamed established a mobile cinema in Iraq, screening movies across Iraq both with the hope of improving democracy, freedom and artistic expression in Iraq. In 2009 Mohamed shot the highly acclaimed feature film, Son of Babylon, which went on to screen at Sundance and Berlin, receiving The Amnesty Film Award and the Peace Prize. The film also won the NETPAC Award at Karlovy Vary and a Special Mention at Edinburgh IFF. In conjuction with Son of Babylon Mohamed launched The IRAQ‘S MISSING CAMPAIGN, an international landmark campaign to raise awareness of the 1,000,000 + missing people in Iraq a cause central to the heart and story of Son of Babylon. The film was supported by and showcased at the Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi (since renamed Abu Dhabi Int'l FF), where it had its world premiere in October 2009, and went on to Berlinale's Panorama and Sundance, where it bowed internationally in the world cinema competition. Its review in Hollywood Reporter is superlative. This film has a real chance at breaking through to become one of the five Academy Award Nominations for Best Foreign Language Film. Roissy Films, the film's international sales agent, has sold it thus far to South Korea, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Equator, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, U.K., Gibraltar, Ireland, Malta, Taiwan, Singapore, Turkey, Japan, Spain, U.K., Mexico, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, Turkey, The Arab World.