Scarred Baghdad 2003... confusion, uncertainty and death engulf the bombed ruins of a Psychiatric asylum. Voyeuristically we move between the past and the present of three Iraqi lives ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Aseel Adel ...
Ahlaam
Bashir Al Majid ...
Ali
Mohamed Hashim ...
Mehdi
Talib Al-Furati ...
Ahlaam's Father
Azhaar Mamoodi ...
Ahlaam's Mother
Kaheel Khalid ...
Hasan
Mortadha Saadi ...
Ahmed
Anaam Al-Rubaye ...
Mehdi's Mother
Khudair Alsari ...
Ahmed's Father
Firyal Kereem ...
Ahmed's Mother
Behjet Al-Juburi ...
Head of the Hospital
Mazin Mohammed Mostaf ...
The Rapist
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Storyline

Scarred Baghdad 2003... confusion, uncertainty and death engulf the bombed ruins of a Psychiatric asylum. Voyeuristically we move between the past and the present of three Iraqi lives entangled by the chaos of the American 'Shock and Awe' campaign... Written by Anonymous

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Taglines:

When dreaming is the only sane thing to do.

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Drama

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Release Date:

19 March 2008 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

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Budget:

£3,000 (estimated)
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Official submission of Iraq for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category of the 79th Academy Awards in 2007. See more »

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The mad people have taken charge of the asylum
4 November 2006 | by (galicia) – See all my reviews

Ahlaam (2005) I have just seen this film at Leeds Film Festival. It is the first one shot in Iraq after Sadam Hussein's fall, and also the first one made by director Mohammed Al-Daradji.

Despite all that has been said, written or screened about war in Iraq, we almost had no opportunity to listen to the Iraqi people themselves. "Ahlaam" provides us with that opportunity: if life during Sadam's regime was just fear and repression, things do not improve with the arrival of the supposed "liberators". There is practically no difference between Sadam's brutal police force and the Americans soldiers who point their guns at the Iraqi people just because they do not understand their language.

The film is set in a Baghdad mental asylum, destroyed during the American bombarding in 2003. Without walls or enough staff to contain them, patients escape and roam the streets under fire. The three main characters are a doctor and two mental asylum patients, whose present circumstances are explained in flashbacks. All are based on real people and played by non-professional actors, who nevertheless offer excellent performances:

Well-intentioned doctor Mehdi saw his promising career cut short because his father was an imprisoned political dissident. Despite the harshness of his job at the asylum, he befriends and genuinely cares for the patients.

Shell-shocked soldier Ali was unfairly accused of desertion and had his ear chopped off as a punishment (the scene is shown in gory detail). The flashbacks depicting his friendship with soldier Hasan show him as a sensitive, loyal comrade. Especially impressive is his desperate race across a bombarded Iraq, literally naked against the world.

Unfortunately, the film is let down by its central character, the Ahlaam of the title. She saw her future husband arrested by Sadam's police on their wedding day and now daydreams about him in her room at the mental asylum, forever wearing her bridal dress. It is a pity that, in contrast to the male characters, Ahlaam does not seem to have any political awareness. The scenes involving her and her fiancé are rather cheesy, while the insistence in depicting Ahlaam as a weak, defenceless victim paradoxically puts distance between her and the audience.

The difficulties endured by the crew while shooting would deserve a film for themselves. Nonetheless, they have been worth it. This is a promising debut. (7/10)


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