Setbacks couldn’t stop these four from reaching screen

Filmmaking becomes a heroic feat in places of war, cultural strife

When American filmmakers bemoan their “struggle” to make a film, they usually mean financial woes or unsympathetic studio bosses. But elsewhere in the world, when war and cultural strife interfere, filmmaking can truly become a heroic feat.

Dreams (Iraq)

Filming in Baghdad in 2004, helmer Mohamed al-Daradji and his crew were twice kidnapped by armed insurgents, beaten, threatened with execution, freed and subsequently detained and interrogated by American forces who believed they were filming anti-U.S. propaganda.

Water (Canada)

Hindu fundamentalists literally destroyed Deepa Mehta’s first production attempt in Varanasi in 2000, burning down her set and issuing death threats to cast and crew. Pic was finally filmed in Sri Lanka four years later.

The Yacoubian Building (Egypt)

Based on Alaa Al Aswani’s controversial novel, pic’s unflinching accounts of homosexuality and government brutality drew fierce criticism and calls for censorship from Egyptian authorities. That it was allowed to be shown, uncut, is considered by many to be a huge step toward freedom of expression in the country.

Ten Canoes (Australia)

The first feature in an Aboriginal language (encompassing eight different dialects), “Ten Canoes’ ” Aboriginal cast had no history of performance or acting; hence director Rolf de Heer was forced to rewrite the film to accommodate actual village relationships.