“I’m excited!” says filmmaker Erfan Rashid, “not only because my film has been selected but because it will be viewed by an audience, judged by critics and journalists. Through this film I will be able to converse with people and understand their ideas and thoughts.”
Erfan Rashid is an Iraqi filmmaker whose film I was There, In Baghdad has been selected in the Gulf Shorts Competition in the the 6th Edition of Gulf Film Festival. He a festival veteran, accomplished director and celebrated journalist. He is the director of the Arab Programme of DIFF and artistic director of the Mare di Cinema Arabo festival in Messina.
“I wrote the script of my film in two hours non-stop,” he says.
“After suffering through the dictatorship and then the exile from my own country I had a story I wanted share it. I wanted to liberate myself, to find other shoulders to share the burden that I carry.”
When asked whether the topic of the Iraqi regime and war has become too repetitive in the Iraqi cinema he replied, “Each period has its stories to tell, what the Iraqi people faced whether during the regime or the war was huge, so they need to share their pain, their tragedies and their stories. These stories don’t necessarily have to have to show realities in terms of destruction but in terms of humanity. Iraqi people like everyone else want to live and want to love. When we as Iraqis want to narrate our stories it is to tell the stories of humanity.”
In regard to the evolving Iraqi cinema he says, “During the regime their were ninety nine films made in Iraq and some of these could not even be considered as films but after the fall of the regime there have been plenty of films that have been made, what Iraqi filmmakers need to do now is improve on the quality rather than the quantity of films. We need to explore Iraqi culture and literature through our films. We need start working together and start building careers in other aspects of film-making like cinematography and technical support.”
One of the biggest problems faced by filmmakers in Iraq according to Rashid in the lack of funding and the lack of government support in Iraq. A platform like the Gulf Film Festival is very essential for such filmmakers, “When I was present in the 2nd edition of the festival there were just sixty nine films, this year there are one sixty nine, the festival has grown so much providing young directors with a stage. it provides diversity, creativity and challenge to all the filmmakers in the Gulf.”
By Syeda Nawab Fathima