From Gent to Mosul and back: Iraqi films to premiere at Film Fest Gent 

From Gent to Mosul and back: Iraqi films to premiere at Film Fest Gent 
Credit: Belga

Seven short films from the series ‘A Film School in Mosul’ will have their European premiere on Sunday at the Film Fest Gent.

The films are the result of a collaboration between the Institute of Fine Arts of Mosul and NTGent, under the initiative of artistic director Milo Rau. A Belgian-Iraqi team of film teachers supervised 20 students from the Iraqi city – 15 boys and five girls – in making nine short films in total.

Seven of the films were selected by the Ghent film festival.

In addition to Suleik Salem Hussain, the Institute’s department head, staff member Sardar Saeed, actress and teacher Susana AbdulMajid, filmmaker and choreographer Eyas Almokdad, filmmaker and cinematographer Daniel Demoustier, sound artist and musician Ioana Mandrescu, actor Johan Leysen and actress Marijke Pinoy trained the students in the art and science of filmmaking.

After theory lessons and exercises, the students had nine scenarios ready. This was followed by production and assembly. Six months after the first classes in October last year, the short films were shown to an audience of students, their families and friends.

“The goal was to bring them closer to the art of cinema,” said Almokdad, who hails from Syria, but works in Brussels. He taught the students, who had prior training in classical theatre, storytelling, screenwriting and directing.

“We didn’t just want to be teachers giving them structures and explaining things. We also wanted to be part of their team. We wanted to be examples of professionals,” he explained.

“The longest recording took less than a day and a half," Almokdad said. "Each group had three days for editing. That Film Fest Gent has now chosen seven of the films is a great result.”

All seats for the viewing at the Ghent film festival are reserved. The short films will also be shown on 19 November during the Arab Film Festival in Zurich.

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