Mohamed Al Daradji / The Journey

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57_22_001254.jpg

Mohamed Al Daradji / The Journey

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Iraqi Dutch filmmaker Mohamed Al-Daradji was born in Baghdad, Iraq, where he grew up and studied theater. In 1995, he fled to the Netherlands, with a pair of trousers, dirty clothes, and one pair of shoes. Says Al-Daradji: “I am proud of Holland that gave me this great energy and this great opportunity to find myself.” He eventually, went to Leeds, England where he got his Masters in cinematography and directing.

In 2003, he returned to Baghdad, to work on his short, Ahlaam. While filming, he was kidnapped by the Iraqis who accused him of making a PR film in support of the US-backed Iraqi government, he fled. That day, he was abducted by Iraqi military men who turned him in to the American soldiers under the suspicion he was filming insurgent attacks for Al Qaeda.

Al-Daradji came to prominence with the release of his documentary Son of Babylon (2009), which premiered at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. It was developed through the Sundance Institute, where he had been a fellow since 2008.

The film premiered at the Berlinale in 2010 and earned him Variety magazine’s Middle East Filmmaker of the Year award, Berlin’s Amnesty Award and Peace Prize, the NETPAC Award at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, and a special mention at Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Al Daradji’s award-winning documentaries include In My Mother’s Arms (2011); and In the Sands of Babylon (2013). They all tackle political affairs in the Middle East and their effects on interpersonal relationships.

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