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Campaigning Iraqi film seeks to highlight plight of displaced and 'missing' at SF Festival
Courageous Iraqi filmmaker Mohamed Al-Daradji's movie, Son of Babylon, aims to communicate the extent of the mass violence Iraq has suffered as a result of wars, sanctions, domestic oppression, occupation and sectarian violence. The film has launched a global initiative, Iraq's Missing Campaign, to inspire a high profile approach to human rights violations that Iraqis have suffered, which have gone largely unnoticed by the world.
The Mass Graves Global Campaign, Iraq's Missing, which will be led by the Iraq's Missing Organisation in Iraq and in the UK, will draw its strength from the success of the feature film, Son of Babylon, that will screen at the 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival in April. The film and campaign aim to create a platform for international organizations to work together to secure a better situation for victims of mass violence in the country.
Son of Babylon exposed to the world Iraq’s hidden horrors, as filmmaker Mohamed Al-Daradji takes his audience on a journey through Iraq in 2003. Saddam Hussein has fallen and on hearing the news that prisoners of war have been found alive in the South, Ahmed, a young boy and his grandmother, Um-Ibrahim, set out to uncover the fate of the boy's father, a political dissident. From the mountains of the North to the southern sands of Babylon, as his grandmother struggles to accept an awful truth, Ahmed retraces the footsteps of a father he never knew.
At the Berlin Film Festival in February, Son of Babylon won both the Amnesty International Film Prize and the Peace Prize and was also part of the official selection for the Sundance Film Festival in January.
The film has already succeeded in creating a bridge of unity between the West and the Middle East, through the shared vision of Human Film (UK/NL), Iraq Al-Rafidain (IRAQ), CRM-114 (FRANCE), Cinema Production Centre (Palestine), Sundance Institute (US), UK Film Council, Screen Yorkshire, UK Trade & Investment (UK), Fond Sud & CNC (France), Hivos, Doen, Nederland Fond and Rotterdam Media Fonds (Netherlands), Royal Film Commission (Jordan), Sunnyland Film ART, Mawred Fund (Eqypt), Pyramedia and ADACH (UAE): all coming together to support one courageous filmmaker, Mohamed Al-Daradji.
The campaign hopes to secure the co-operation of governments and other authorities in locating and identifying persons 'missing' in Iraq. This will involve an expansive initiative with the film to raise international awareness and engage thousands of viewers in targeted action to put pressure on governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Already, scores of thousands of bodies have been recovered from 300 mass graves found in many areas of the country. The number of bodies recovered from mass graves will grow as more are discovered, which is sure to overwhelm the limited resources that aid organizations in Iraq can call upon.
The filmmakers hope that, working together, the Iraq's Missing Campaign and Son of Babylon will communicate the extent of the suffering to a wider audience and are lobbying for the redirection of resources within Iraq, and from outside organizations, to fund the technology needed for the identification of the bodies in a more efficient way. IMC aims to raise global awareness of the magnitude of suffering of Iraqis and other groups in the country, to provide answers to families of victims, to build a mass graves memorial and a museum and to secure fairer compensation for victims and their families.
We intend to help and establish committed partnerships and work plans from organizations that can champion this campaign and put in place full infra-structures to tackle the mass graves found. We also would hope that the Iraqi people will form an integral part of the campaign and that their own local campaigns will spring up.
We are in the process of sorting out the website. It should be up-and-running soon at http://www.iraqsmissing.org.
Official poster for the film, Son of Babylon.