Yorkshire/Iraqi feature gets two awards in Berlin, makers donate 10k prize to charity
While BAFTA was making history on Sunday with all four directing awards going to women, Yorkshire based Mohamed Al Daradji's Iraq set feature follow-up to Ahlaam became the only British film* to take any awards at the 60th Berlinale. Following its success in Sundance, Son of Babylon - a road movie that looks, with 'humor and lightness' at reconciliation and healing in post-Saddam Iraq - took the Amnesty International Film Prize Award and The Peace Prize Award.
Al-Daradji said "I would like to thank the juries who are honouring SON OF BABYLON with such prestigious awards for the film and my country, Iraq. I would like to dedicate this award to our IRAQ'S MISSING Campaign. I hope through these awards we will be able to give answers to my main character Shehzad Hussen who for the last 22 years has been searching for her husband and also for my sister whose husband disappeared 5 months ago."
During the Berlin Film Festival, ‘SON OF BABYLON’ had five fully sold out screenings with standing ovations, resulting in the film being in the top five for the audience choice award in the Panorama section. The producers of the film have pledged that both prize awards, which total 10,000 Euros, will go directly to the IRAQ’S MISSING campaign as they aim to communicate the extent of the genocide.
*actually an 8-party UK / Iraq / France / UAE / Eqypt / Palestine / Netherlands co-production
"Son of Babylon is a sensitive road movie that shows with iconic images and situations, the search for healing after a reign of terror by war in a devastated country. Despite the tragic circumstances of the film's humor and lightness, Al-Daradji arouses sympathy and the hope for reconciliation in Iraq, " said actress Barbara Sukowa, a member of this year's Amnesty Film Award Jury.
The producers of the film have pledged that both prize awards, which total 10,000 Euros, will go directly to the IRAQ’S MISSING campaign as they aim to communicate the extent of the genocide. The campaign will lobby for the redirection of resources in Iraq working with outside organisations and those within Iraq dedicated to issues such as these, to fund the technology needed for the identification of the bodies in a more efficient way. The Filmmakers hope that through watching the film the media and its audiences will join them in supporting the IRAQ’S MISSING campaign and help in contributing to bringing peace of mind to Iraq’s millions of families who have lost loved ones over the years until now. The campaign has the backing of the Minister of Human Rights in Iraq H.E Ms. Wijdan Makha’il Salim, who at the Premiere of the film in Berlin spoke in support of the campaign.
The film 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 Fond 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 all coming together to support one courageous filmmaker, Mohamed Al-Daradji.