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International Film Exchange

International Film Exchange

The International Film Exchange (IFE) brings young filmmakers from around the world to Hollywood and assists them in developing the technical and creative tools needed to document important social issues in their countries of origin. The IFE serves two purposes: 1) to provide training for young filmmakers and organize outlets for their films, and 2) to raise awareness in the U.S. film industry about important international social issues. Participants include producers, directors, writers, cinematographers and actors.

In partnership with the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television (TFT), this program allows international filmmakers to travel to the United States, learn about filmmaking from top American artists and receive hands on mentoring and support. At the end of this program, participating filmmakers are provided small grants to produce short films.

This Humpty Dumpty IFE project took place in Iraq over a two year period. U.S. filmmaker Bill Megalos traveled to Baghdad in May 2013 to meet candidates for this program and provide orientation and training. The training was conducted at the Iraqi Independent Film Center (IIFC) and the primary focus was to prepare six students to make short dramatic films with a concentration on storytelling, preparing and refining their scripts, as well as teaching techniques for effective visual storytelling, including lens selection, production design, editing style, lighting and sound design. In addition to the six students who were scheduled to travel to the U.S., another eight local students attended these sessions. Read more about the workshop and Bill’s experience in Baghdad on his blog.

In the next phase of the project the first group of IFE participants — five filmmakers (one of the six filmmakers selected to travel to the U.S. was not able to do so) traveled to Los Angeles in June 2013 to participate in an intensive program that included three days of classroom training at UCLA. The University provided the visiting Iraqi filmmakers with an innovative curriculum that integrated the study and creation of live performance, film, television and the digital arts. The New York Times published a story describing the visit titled “Operation Iraqi Filmmakers.”

Following Bill Megalos’ visit to Baghdad and training in Los Angeles, the six filmmakers used the skills and methods learned and incorporated them to shoot the short films that they developed in the workshop. They worked as a team and helped each other throughout the process with each of the six directors taking the lead on his own project. The ideas for each film came from the environment these young men grew up in and highlighted some of the unfortunate daily themes in Iraq which resulted after a decade of war followed by a fragile rebuilding process. With hope for a better future, the filmmakers took it upon themselves to inspire their audiences through film as a form of artistic expression.

As the project neared conclusion, Bill Megalos returned to Iraq in May of 2014 to work with the students on their rough cuts: refining their stories, re-editing the films and preparing them for final work including sound mix and color correction. During this visit, he conducted another workshop in storytelling that was attended by younger students at the IIFC, preparing them for the films they will be making in the future.

In the fall of 2014 six films were completed successfully. The Iraqi directors were proud of their work and were anxious to receive local and international feedback on their films. What came after is an amazing story of success. The films were entered into international film festivals and so far, two of the six films, “Gift of my Father” by Salam Salman and “Kingdom of Garbage” by Yasir Kareem, were accepted and have won acclaim. “Gift of my Father” won the prestigious Crystal Bear Award at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival and “Kingdom of Garbage” received a Special Jury Mention (runner-up) at the TriBeCa 2015 Film Festival. All six films (listed below) are currently being submitted for competition at various international film festivals. The story does not end with festival fame as these filmmakers have been inspired by this project to share their knowledge with other emerging young artists and filmmakers in Iraq. This project added an important sustainability aspect to IIFC and their future work.

The Humpty Dumpty Institute continues to work with the arts community in Iraq and other countries, including some in post-conflict areas, to make sure young talented filmmakers are exposed and properly supported to create an artistic narrative that serves as an alternative to extremist ideologies. The Iraqi IFE program was funded by the American Embassy in Baghdad and organized by the Humpty Dumpty Institute in partnership with the Iraqi Independent Film Center.

Film Logos
TriBeCA Logo
Kingdom of Garbage
A Film By Yasser Kareem
2014, Iraq, UK, Netherlands, USA, 9 mins
Kingdom of Garbage

Synopsis
Zahraa dreams of going to school. Instead she and her brother, Hassan, must scour a landfill site for valuable materials to provide for their poor family, competing against the other scavengers. When a trade between Zahraa and the self proclaimed ‘King of Garbage’ goes wrong, the sibling’s relationship is tested to breaking point – can the two overcome Zahraa’s innocent mistake?

Project background
In 2014, in co-production with, Iraq Al Rafidain Human Film UK/NL and the Humpty Dumpty Institute, the Iraqi Independent Film Centre launched it's second short film academy initiative in Iraq.

The purpose of this academy is to grant emerging Iraqi filmmakers the opportunity to express themselves creatively, encouraging and nurturing new talent whilst actively supporting the re- establishment and development of the Iraqi film industry. The short films all focus on subjects surrounding childhood and growing up, addressing issues that children face growing up in Iraq.

Yasser was selected to write, direct and edit his own short film, having proved himself a talented writer on a number of short films in the previous years academy. In total, six short films were written and produced by students under the supervision of award winning producer and filmmaker, Mohamed Al-Daradji.

Yasser KareemDirector
Yasser Kareem was born In 1986 In Nasiryah, Iraq. He is a graduate from the college of science. He has written screenplays for short films and documentaries. He was a co- writer on "Happy Birthday", a short film by Mohanad Hayal which premiered at he Berlin International Film Festival and won the rising star award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. He is currently a student of the Iraqi Independent Film Centre and has just completed the short film ‘Kingdom of Garbage’. He also works as a journalist.

Filmography
Kingdom of Garbage (2014)

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International Berlin
Gift of My Father
A Film By Salam Salman
2014, Iraq, UK, Netherlands, USA, 6 mins
Gift of My Father

Synopsis
A seemingly normal car journey crosses from present reality into a recurring nightmare as Hamoudi, a young victim of war, relives his traumatic experiences of the Baghdad Blackwater shootings.

Project background
In 2014, in co-production with, Iraq Al Rafidain Human Film UK/NL and the Humpty Dumpty Institute, the Iraqi Independent Film Centre launched it's second short film workshop initiative in Iraq.

The purpose of this workshop was to grant emerging Iraqi filmmakers the opportunity to express themselves creatively, encouraging and nurturing new talent whilst actively supporting the re- establishment and development of the Iraqi film industry. The short films all focus on subjects surrounding childhood and growing up, addressing issues that children face growing up in Iraq.

Salam Salman was selected to write, direct and edit his own short film, having proved himself a talented asset as cinematographer on a number of short films in the previous years workshop. In total, six short films were written and produced by students under the supervision of award winning producer and filmmaker, Mohamed Al-Daradji.

Salam SalmanDirector
Salam Salman was born in Baghdad in 1977. He studied cinema at the College of Fine Arts, Baghdad University from 2002-2006.

Salam began his film career working as first camera assistant on Oday Rasheed’s film ‘Quarantine’ (2009) In 2013, he worked as director of photography on two short films made as part of the Iraqi Independent Film Centers short film workshop.

Salam worked as a camera assistant on Mohamed Al- Daradji’s 2013 film ‘ In The Sands of Babylon’. He also worked as cinematographer on the feature film ‘The Hours’ (2013) for the Iraqi Ministry of Culture in North of Iraq. ‘Gift of my Father’ is Salam’s First short film as writer, director and editor. It was made as part of the Iraqi Independent Film Centers 2014 short film workshop.

Filmography:
(2014) Gift of my Father

Festival History:
Berlianle 2015 – Generation Kplus – Winner of the Crystal Bear for Best Short Film

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The Iraqi Superman
A Film By Sajjad Abbas
2014, Iraq, UK, Netherlands, USA, 6 mins
Gift of My Father

Synopsis
A tormented young man constructs an ingenious devise to rescue his father from Abo Ghraib prison. What he finds there is far from his expectations, revealing the mistreatment and torture of prisoners. His hopes and dreams for a brighter future are dashed upon finding his father.

Project background
In 2014, in co-production with, Iraq Al Rafidain Human Film UK/NL and the Humpty Dumpty Institute, the Iraqi Independent Film Centre launched it's second short film academy initiative in Iraq.

The purpose of this academy is to grant emerging Iraqi filmmakers the opportunity to express themselves creatively, encouraging and nurturing new talent whilst actively supporting the re- establishment and development of the Iraqi film industry. The short films all focus on subjects surrounding childhood and growing up, addressing issues that children face growing up in Iraq.

Sajjad was selected to write, direct and edit his own short film, having proved himself a talented asset in the art department on a number of short films in the previous years academy. In total, six short films were written and produced by students under the supervision of award winning producer and filmmaker, Mohamed Al-Daradji.

Sajjad AbbasDirector
Sajjad Abbas was born in Iraq Baghdad in 1993. He received a diploma from the Institute of Fine Art, Baghdad in 2014. There he participated in many of Joint exhibitions.

Sajjad worked as a member of the art department on eight short movies made by the Iraqi Independent Film Center. He has completed two animation films. His most recent ‘Iraqi Superman’ was completed in 2014 as part of the IIFC’s short film workshop.

Sajjad currently works as an animator for Spacetoon in Jordan.

Filmography:
The Iraqi Superman (2014)

Dark to Dark
A Film By Omid Khalid
2014, Iraq, UK, Netherlands, USA, 7 mins
Gift of My Father

Synopsis
On the day of her wedding, a young girl hides from her family. Through her eye’s, we observe the anguish and conflict between her family members, exposing the opposing sides of a forced marriage. As the preparations and celebrations take place before her, she is inevitably forced to commit to the worst day of her life.

Project background
In 2014, in co-production with, Iraq Al Rafidain Human Film UK/NL and the Humpty Dumpty Institute, the Iraqi Independent Film Centre launched it's second short film academy initiative in Iraq.

The purpose of this academy is to grant emerging Iraqi filmmakers the opportunity to express themselves creatively, encouraging and nurturing new talent whilst actively supporting the re- establishment and development of the Iraqi film industry. The short films all focus on subjects surrounding childhood and growing up, addressing issues that children face growing up in Iraq.

Omid was selected to write, direct and edit his own short film, having proved himself a talented asset on a number of short films in the previous years academy. In total, six short films were written and produced by students under the supervision of award winning producer and filmmaker, Mohamed Al-Daradji.

Omid KhalidDirector
Omid Khalid was born in Baghdad. He studied cinema at the Department of Fine Arts, University of Baghdad College. He further studied in Los Angeles at UCLA in a Film Workshop.

Omid now lives in Iraq, working for Iraq Al-Rafidain, a film production company based in Baghdad, and is a board member for the Iraqi Independent Film Center.

Omid has worked on a number of film projects, including ‘In The Sands of Babylon’ (2013) by Mohammed Al-Daradji, working as production manager. He worked on a number of shorts as part of the Iraqi Independent Film Centres 2013 Short Film Workshop, as well as writing and directing his own short film, ‘Dark to Dark’, as part of the 2014 short film workshop.

Filmography:
Dark to Dark (2014)

Taste of Life
A Film By Medoo Ali
2014, Iraq, UK, Netherlands, USA, 7 mins
Gift of My Father

Synopsis
In the aftermath of a tragedy, a grieving mother visit’s the site where her son was killed. There she encounters the young boy’s spirit, unable to make sense of his surroundings. This brief encounter will finally put the boy’s spirit to rest, allowing him to join the other victims in the after life.

Project background
In 2014, in co-production with, Iraq Al Rafidain Human Film UK/NL and the Humpty Dumpty Institute, the Iraqi Independent Film Centre launched it's second short film academy initiative in Iraq.

The purpose of this academy is to grant emerging Iraqi filmmakers the opportunity to express themselves creatively, encouraging and nurturing new talent whilst actively supporting the re- establishment and development of the Iraqi film industry. The short films all focus on subjects surrounding childhood and growing up, addressing issues that children face growing up in Iraq.

Medoo was selected to write, direct and edit his own short film, having proved himself a talented asset on a number of short films in the previous years academy. In total, six short films were written and produced by students under the supervision of award winning producer and filmmaker, Mohamed Al-Daradji.

Medoo AliDirector
Medoo Ali was born in 1991. He studied at the Centre of Fine Arts in Baghdad.

Medoo has worked in a number of Iraqi feature films that were produced after 2003, most notably on the films of Mohamed Al Daradji including 'Son of Babylon', the documentary 'In My Mother's Arms' and most recently 'In The Sands of Babylon'. Medoo has also worked with filmmaker Oday Rasheed, as well as other Iraqi projects.

Medoo directed his first short film, 'Children of War' as part of a workshop through the Iraqi Independent Film Centre. He also co-directed the film 'Nesma's Birds', made as part of the same workshop. Most recently, he completed his latest short film ‘Taste of Life’.

Filmography:
Nesma’s Birds (2013)
Children of War (2013)
Taste of Life (2014)

A Nation Without A Homeland
A Film By Warith Kwaish
2014, Iraq, UK, Netherlands, USA, 11 mins
Gift of My Father

Synopsis
Mohamed is a refugee from Syria – a result of the crisis of 2010. He has no recollection of his family or life before he reached Baghdad. In an attempt to reunite Mohamed with his family, Wareth Kwaish embarks on a journey, searching the refugee camps along the Iraqi-Syrian border, desperately seeking leads as to their whereabouts. Along the way, he discovers people’s selfless desire to aid his search, as well as the tragic stories of some of the thousands of Syrian refugee’s like Mohamed. Will Wareth’s search prove fruitful?

Project background
In 2014, in co-production with, Iraq Al Rafidain Human Film UK/NL and the Humpty Dumpty Institute, the Iraqi Independent Film Centre launched it's second short film academy initiative in Iraq.

The purpose of this academy is to grant emerging Iraqi filmmakers the opportunity to express themselves creatively, encouraging and nurturing new talent whilst actively supporting the re- establishment and development of the Iraqi film industry. The short films all focus on subjects surrounding childhood and growing up, addressing issues that children face growing up in Iraq.

Warith was selected to write, direct and edit his own short film. In total, six short films were written and produced by students under the supervision of award winning producer and filmmaker, Mohamed Al-Daradji.

Wareth KwaishDirector
Wareth Kwaish was born in 1992 in Baghdad. He studied cinema at the Baghdad institute of fine arts, specializing in cinema. He gained experience in this field working with Iraqi director, Mohamed Al-Daradji as well as working on other projects by Iraqi filmmakers.

Wareth has completed two films, ‘Once they were here’ and ‘A Nation Without A Homeland’ which was completed in 2014 as part of the Iraqi Independent Film Centers short film workshop.

Wareth currently works for the Iraqi Independent Film Centre.



Mohamed Al-Daradji
Producer
Mohamed Al-Daradji is a multi-award Iraqi Filmmaker, based in Baghdad. His feature and documentary work has earned him a plethora of international awards, including the title of Variety’s Middle Eastern Filmmaker of the Year in 2010. Aside from working on his own film projects, Mohamed is an advocate for the re-establishment and development of the film industry in Iraq. Through Iraqi Independent Film Centre he is actively working to encourage and train a new generation of filmmakers through a series of short film workshops in Baghdad. Mohamed is currently working on his latest feature project ‘Journey to God’.

Filmography:
(2013) In The Sands of Babylon
(2011) In My Mother’s Arms
(2010) Son Of Babylon
(2008) Iraq: War, Love, God, Madness
(2006) Ahlaam