"Religion is something private, it's
about you and your God. You respect me, I respect you - we live together
this fantastic life. This is why God made us different. If he made us
the same with one religion, it would make life boring. That's why he
made us different: white, black, yellow, brown."
Mohamed Al Daradji *
It was Laurence Boyce, actually, who alerted me to Ahlaam - the first fiction film to be shot in Iraq in decades, using a largely Iraqi cast and crew - and its creator, Yorkshire-based Mohamed Al Daradji. It's a relief to hear the latest news from his producer, Isabelle Stead, in Cannes on one of the most exciting and urgent voices in British cinema right now.
AL-DARADJI'S NEXT FEATURE 'UM-HUSSEIN' TRIUMPHS, BAGGING UKFC'S DEVELOPMENT FUND & GOAL POST FILM FOR WORLD SALES!
This week UM-HUSSEIN received funding from the UKFC's development fund and are in talks with the UKFC's New Cinema Fund, along with attaching Goalpost Film (Clubland) for world sales.
This intensely personal story of UM-HUSSEIN is being passionately supported by Sundance, directed by the award winning Mohamed Al-Daradji (Ahlaam, War, Love, God and Madness), produced by Human Film's Isabelle Stead (War, Love, God & Madness) and Iraq Al-Rafidain's Atia Al-Daradji (Ahlaam). The film's executive producers include Pippa Cross (Bloody Sunday) of CrossDay Productions and the highly acclaimed Antonia Bird (Priest) of 4Way Pictures, with co-producers Dimitri de Clerq (Earth and Ashes) of CRM-114 (France) and internationally regarded filmmaker Rashid Masharawi (France/Palestine).
UM-HUSSEIN is a mother's journey to bring home her son against the debris of a war torn Iraq. Told through two parallel tales we recount Hussein's turbulent life as an army deserter through the treacherous and courageous steps of his elderly mother UM-HUSSEIN and his young son Ahmed on their pilgrimage to find him.
The film is receiving funding from Fond Sud (CNC), Screen Yorkshire's Development Fund alongside the Kurdish and Iraqi Ministries of Culture. After the success of Mohamed's first two films; AHLAAM, the award winning film that that represented Iraq for Oscar and Golden Globe consideration in 2007; and WAR, LOVE, GOD & MADNESS, that recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, there is no doubt of the potential importance UM-HUSSEIN has to offer the current voices of World Cinema.
- Shooting Against the Odds : Mohamed Al Daradji tells us the astonishing story of filming his first feature in Iraq
- 4 November 2006: Iraq's Oscar entrty Ahlaam gets UK premiere at Leeds
- 28 November 2006: Human Film's Ahlam picks up Golden Globe pre-selection
- 6 June 2007: Acclaimed Yorkshire film returns to Bagdhad for Screening
- 27 September 2007: Reconstructing Iraq's film industry, Human Film and Antonia Bird in Jordon
- 18 April 2008: Ahlaam gets Iraqi distribution, the Making-Of doc selected for Tribeca
* full quote:
Am I right in thinking that the company is made up of a Christian, Isabelle is partly Jewish, and you're Muslim?
To be honest we don't put religion in there. But I am Muslim. Danny, he is with me, he is Christian. Isabelle is half Jewish. And we never think about religion, at the end of the day, what is religion but about human beings learning to live in peace. What Islam , Christian and Jewish religions say is the same. The ten commandments: don't kill, don't kill, don't steal, don't lie, dont talk about people - religion is about human beings.
All the religions are the same. So when my friend Danny goes on Sunday to the church and prays to God and when I go on Friday to the Mosque, and on Saturday she goes to the synagogue it's the same thing. We don't have any problems.
Religion is for you, not for me. Religion is something private, it's about you and your God. You respect me I respect you, we live together this fantastic life. This is why God made us different, if he made us the same with one religion, it would make life boring, that's why he made us different: white, black, yellow, brown.