Iraqi filmmaker Mohamed Al-Dharadji whose film 'The Journey', is Iraq's entry for the Oscar's Foreign Film entries, poses for a photo in West Hollywood, California, November 27, 2018. Photo: Frederic J. Brown / AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Journey, a film by Iraqi-Dutch director Mohamed Jabaah al-Daradji, was the first Iraqi film to be screened in cinemas across the country in 27 years. Now it has been named as Iraq’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 91st Academy Awards.
The movie emerged from a generation of Iraqis who experienced the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), both the 1991 and 2003 Gulf wars, and the rise of ISIS.
“All of this influenced us,” director Daradji told Italy’s askanews on Tuesday.
The film is set in 2006 around Baghdad’s only train station – on the same day former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was to be hanged.
It tells the story of a female suicide bomber battling with conflicting thoughts and feelings.
“The suicide bombers are not right. But here it was a matter of observing them, listening, feeling,” Daradji said. “And the question that the film raises is the possibility of their redemption.”
“I always say that the war continues even when it is finished,” Daradji added. “War remains within us, in society and within me.”
“In my opinion, the Iraqi people have not yet cried. People have not yet managed to accept what happened [in the Iraq-Iran war], no one sat at the table to talk.”
“I thought that such a film could help in some way to reflect.”
The Journey is Daradji’s third film to be nominated for the Academy Awards since 2005. His film Ahlaam was nominated in 2007, and Son of Babylon was nominated in 2010.
In 2005, Requiem of Snow became the first Kurdish-language film to represent Iraq at the Academy Awards.
The 91st Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, takes place in Los Angeles, California on February 25, 2019. Nominations will be announced in January.