After dark years, lights coming back on for Iraqi cinema

Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:46pm EST
 

By Aseel Kami

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The din of power generators, tangle of jerry-rigged electric wiring and hassle of security checkpoints are all part of the movie business in Iraq, not to mention the lack of studio space and dearth of experienced crews.

But actors like Sadiq Abbas are just happy to get back to work.

"The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step," Abbas said on the set of a short film shot recently in Baghdad. "Let's take this as the first step for Iraqi cinema."

War and international sanctions have left most of Iraq's infrastructure and industry - including the movie industry - in shambles.

Government funding would have provided the jumpstart the industry needed but it has not been a government priority; the last full length feature financed by the state was in 1990. Independent film producers have struggled on their own.

That may be changing.

Nine months after the last U.S. troops left, Iraq's oil industry is pumping at the highest in decades thanks to multi-billion contracts with foreign companies. Everyday life is showing signs of becoming more stable, and the government says it can now look again to funding the arts.

The ministry of culture has put up $4.7 million through to next year, enough to fund 21 movies ranging from full-length features to shorts and documentaries, touching on subjects as sensitive as Shi'ite and Sunni friendships riven by sectarian rivalries and the issue of family honor.   Continued...

 
A film crew shoots a scene of an Iraqi film in a street in Baghdad October 18,2012. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen