Getting shot at, kidnapped and tortured is proving perfect training for Mohamed al-Daradji at his first Cannes as he attempts to secure distribution for “Ahlaam.”
The Iraqi helmer, who was kidnapped twice by insurgents while lensing on location in Baghdad in 2005, has secured Spanish and French distribution for his debut feature. Japan’s ministry of culture has also obtained rights to screen the film there as part of a cultural exchange.
Al-Daradji will likely self-distribute the pic, only the country’s second post-Saddam feature, through his shingle Human Film in the U.K. as well as in Syria, Jordan and Iraq itself. Ongoing violence and lack of theatrical infrastructure in Iraq means he will screen film on mobile cinemas throughout the country. He’s even negotiating with a contact in Fallujah about screening the film in the heartland of the insurgency.
U.S. and some European rights remain available.
The multihyphenate is also shopping project “Um Hussein,” about an Iraqi mother searching for her missing son, and “Shooting in Iraq,” a nearly completed docu about the making of “Ahlaam.”
Screen Yorkshire has ponied up development money for “Um Hussein.”Brit helmer Antonia Bird has joined “Um Hussein” as exec producer.