Film uses soccer to depict life in Iraqi Kurdistan
Manama, June 30, 2014
A former Bahrain resident has co-produced a film that uses football to depict life in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The timing for the announcement could hardly be more appropriate, with the world's news agenda currently dominated by the Fifa World Cup in Brazil and the march of Sunni militants across Iraq, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, the film titled Mikael is intended to offer a different perspective on Iraq that doesn't solely focus on bloodshed and conflict.
Iraqi-Canadian co-producer Nameer Al Durrah - who lived in Bahrain between 2005 and 2011 - admitted it had not been easy to secure funding.
"It was obviously a very difficult thing to get funding for your first independent film," he said.
"We had to convince our investors in our vision of the story and how it is something that everyone could connect to."
Al Durrah teamed up with Kurdish-Canadian filmmaker Kordo Doski and with American Jose Moreno Brooks for the film, which tells the story of a 33-year-old man who, after breaking up with his girlfriend, pursues his forgotten first love of becoming a professional footballer.
He travels from the West to the Kurdish governorate of Duhok where he joins a football team. The movie, which is shot in a documentary style, was offered two distribution deals before its first screening.
"There was a lot to be done prior to getting the investment and Kordo, myself and our other partner Jose worked our socks off to get it there," said Al Durrah, who currently lives in the UAE.
"I think the Middle East is really getting the movie bug and seeing the chances it has to get involved in the industry.
"The UAE and Qatar obviously are the two countries pushing this agenda the most and it is not surprising that we were able to get our funds from there.
"At the end, if you have a good product, eventually someone will see it for what it is and will buy into it."
The three men behind the film established Said Who Productions in Los Angeles for the project, the seeds of which were sown when Al Durrah and Doski were at university together in Canada.
"In a casual conversation at university with Kordo, I mentioned that if there was ever a chance for me to get involved, I would like to hear about it," said Al Durrah.
"He came to me nearly five years ago with an idea for a script and here we are now.
"Said Who Productions has finished producing its first full length feature film. We were able to do and keep both creative and financial control of the movie which is a very hard task to achieve in the industry.
"For me the journey is still at the beginning - there is still a lot to do with this film and with Said Who Productions."
The film is a message of hope and emphasises the importance of people pursuing their dreams.
"It's important to know that there are no boundaries in this world, it is only the boundaries you set for yourself that will stop you from achieving your dreams - whether its playing football professionally or making a movie," said Al Durrah.
Filming for Mikael took place in Kurdistan and received support from Kurdish politicians and tribal leaders.
"People really got behind the project once they had seen some of the footage we had shot and cut together," said Doski, who is based in the US.
"Film-making is not as ingrained in that society as it is in the US. Although there are many great Kurdish films and filmmakers, it's still a fairly new thing. Because of that there is a lot of room for experimentation."
Some of the footage was filmed while Doski trained with the Nadi Duhok football team, which plays in the Iraqi Premier League.
While Mikael is not based on a true story, Doski admitted some of the plot was semi-autobiographical.
"Soccer was my dream and passion and unfortunately, a few major injuries and some choices I made weren't in line with making it as a professional player," said Doski.
"I wanted to make sure that I learned from those mistakes and found a better way of going about this new dream of mine as a filmmaker." - TradeArabia News Service