The Humpty Dumpty Institute Trains Iraqi Filmmakers in Baghdad
May 14, 2013 - For Immediate Release
The Humpty Dumpty Institute in partnership with the Iraqi Independent Film Centre (IIFC) conducted a workshop for 13 young Iraqi filmmakers in Baghdad from May 1-10. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad funded the workshop with additional support coming from Iraq Al-Rafdin and Human Film UK/NL. The training was part of the International Film Exchange, a program of the Humpty Dumpty Institute that trains filmmakers with special promise from around the world and helps them use the power of film and television to highlight important social issues. In addition, the IFE raises awareness in the U.S. film industry about the struggles of promising filmmakers abroad when attempting to document those issues.
The theme of the Baghdad workshop was “Telling the Story”. It was designed to build upon a series of training activities conducted by IIFC beginning in January under the leadership of Iraqi’s most important filmmaker, Mohamed Al-Daradji (“Son of Babylon”). The workshop's instructor, Bill Megalos, is a California-based filmmaker with more than 30 years experience producing and directing feature films and documentaries. Seven of the workshop participants are slated to travel to Los Angeles in June to take part in an intensive ten-day program at the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. Participants in the UCLA program will receive a stipend allowing them to produce a short film of their own upon returning to Iraq.
As part of the learning experience during the workshop in Baghdad, participants worked as a team over a ten-day period to produce a four-minute short film entitled "Bazoune” (The Kitten). The subject of the film is a precocious little boy who can't stay out of trouble. It is loosely based on one of the many neighborhood children who hang out at the IIFC campus along the banks of the Tigris River in the old quarter of Baghdad. The IIFC screened “Bazoune” at the Babylon Festival of International Culture and Arts in Iraq on May 9, 2013.
Workshop trainer Bill Megalos was impressed by the potential of the participating filmmakers: "This is my first trip to Iraq. I am moved by the dedication and enthusiasm displayed by these young filmmakers who work under difficult circumstances and with limited resources. Formerly Iraq had a vibrant film industry and there were a dozen movie theatres within walking distance of where we held the workshop. I'd like to see more organizations like the Iraqi Independent Film Center and more programs like HDI's International Film Exchange so Iraqis can tell their stories to the world as they rebuild their country.”
HDI's President Ralph Cwerman agrees: "When we first proposed an International Film Exchange program for Iraq, there were concerns that Iraqi filmmakers might not be ready for a program of this type. Based on the results of this workshop, they clearly are. We look forward to partnering with UCLA to hosting these filmmakers when they visit Los Angeles in June. We also look forward to expanding the International Film Exchange to more countries in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.”
For more information about the International Film Exchange, please contact Joe Merante at 212-944-7111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.