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After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Baghdad-born Mohamed Al-Daradji returned home in 2004 with the dream of making a film about his agonized homeland, now freed at last from the tyrant's grasp. Under increasingly difficult conditions, he succeeded in making a feature film, Ahlaam. It was screened at many film festivals throughout the world, received many awards, and represented Iraq in both the Golden Globe and Academy Award® competitions in 2006. The extraordinary story of how that film was made is the subject of War, Love, God & Madness (In Arabic the first three of those words are written with characters that closely resemble each other). But this riveting new documentary is quite different from the usual-and in the DVD age, obligatory-making-of feature, and indeed its story can be appreciated even by viewers who have not seen Ahlaam. It provides a harrowing and unforgettable portrayal of the extraordinary ordeals Al-Daradji and his indomitable colleagues were forced to endure, including interrogation and torture. Struggling against time, persecution, imprisonment, injuries, and terrorist attacks, the cast and crew struggle on and, miraculously, manage to finish the film. In Godard's Pierrot le fou, the American director Sam Fuller is famously quoted as saying, "Film is a battlefield." In the case of Ahlaam, this unnerving documentary indelibly records, that wasn't simply a figure of speech.

Co-hosted by ArteEast.

Film Information
Year: 2008
Length: 72 minutes
Language: Arabic
Country: U.K., Sweden, Netherlands, Iraq, Palestine
Premiere: North American
Cast & Credits
Producers: Isabelle Stead, Atia Al-Daradji, Rashid Masharawi, Dimitri deGerg
Editor/Producer: Danny Evans
Executive Producer: Hugo Heppell
About the Director(s)
Mohamed Al-Daradji (b. 1978, Baghdad) studied film and theater at the Art Institute of Baghdad and in Holland at the Media Academy in Hilversum. He then worked as a television cameraman for Dutch television. He received two master's degrees in cinematography and directing from the Northern Film School in England and won the prestigious National Kodak Student Award for best commercial. After Saddam's regime was overthrown in 2003, Mohamed returned to Iraq. The utter chaos he found inspired him to make his first feature film, Ahlaam, which screened at 80 film festivals and represented Iraq for Oscar® consideration. Mohamed is currently working on his next feature, Um-Hussein.


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