The film received the IWC Filmmaker Award worth $100,000 at the Dubai International Film Festival.
Iraqi film Our River…Our Sky, directed by veteran documentary filmmaker Maysoon Pachachi, will have its UK premiere at the 30th edition of the Raindance Film Festival.
The film festival is scheduled to take place from October 26 – November 5.
Maysoon Pachachi wrote the film in collaboration with Baghdad-based author Irada Al-Jubori.
In the festival’s “Homegrown” strand, the premiere at Curzon Cinema Soho on October 29 will be presented by the director and actors.
Speaking about the film, Pachachi said: “When I set up my film production company in London in 1993, it was in direct response to the Gulf War. Since then, I have aimed to share authentic stories of Iraqis and other people from the Middle East with British audiences – initially through a documentary film I made for Channel 4 and now, many years later, with this ensemble narrative inspired by the lives of real people coping during the time of intense sectarian violence that began unfolding in 2006.”
Landing its world premiere at Sarajevo Film Festival, Our River…Our Sky won the $100,000 IWC Filmmaker Award at Dubai International Film Festival. Since launching its festival tour in 2021 in the formerly war-torn city of Sarajevo, the film was featured at Cairo IFF, Slemani IFF, Amman IFF, and at Franco-Arab Film Festival in Baghdad. The film was also selected for Arab film festivals in San Francisco, Berlin, and Rotterdam and met with well-attended screenings at the Arab World Institute in Paris and Institut Lumière in Lyon, France.
Our River…Our Sky (aka Kulshi Makooin Arabic) is set against a background of sectarian violence in the last week of 2006, between Christmas and the Adha Eid. It tells the stories of ordinary Iraqis trying to live their everyday lives in Baghdad, the capital; despite unpredictable violent events, which put them in peril. Sara, a single mother and novelist, shocked into silence by the surrounding violence, has been unable to write one word of fiction. Shortly before the New Year, following unexpected news, Sara and her neighbours brace themselves for an uncertain future while trying to sustain a fragile sense of hope.
The cast includes Darina Al Joundi (as Sara), Basim Hajar, Meriam Abbasand renowned Iraqi actor Mahmoud Abo Al Abbas. The production was initially developed by Oxymoron Films (UK) and Linked Productions (Kuwait) and made in co-production with its other main producers Les Contes Modernes (France) and Neue Mediopolis Filmproduktion (Germany). World Sales are handled by The Party Film Sales, and MAD Solutions handles the film’s distribution across the Arab world. The film is the first international co-production of a feature written and directed by women of Iraqi origin.
In the MENA region, the film was supported by Sanad and Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation in UAE, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture-AFAC, and Doha Film Institute. In Europe, the film was supported by CNC in France and British Film Institute as well as by funds in Germany and Switzerland.
Maysoon Pachachi is a London-based filmmaker of Iraqi origin who studied philosophy at University College London and attended the London Film School as a student of British director Mike Leigh. She was a documentary and drama film editor and, since 1994, has worked as an independent documentary filmmaker, mostly making films set in the Arab world. Her movies include Iranian Journey (2000), Return to the Land of Wonders (2004) and Our Feelings Took the Pictures: Open Shutters Iraq (2008).
Irada Al-Jubori is an Iraqi writer, researcher and women’s rights activist who has received a master’s degree from the Faculty of Fine Arts, and obtained a doctoral degree from the Faculty of Information, at the University of Baghdad. Her doctoral thesis was on the image of women in Iraqi cinema from 1946 to 1994. Before she co-wrote Our River…Our Sky, Al-Jubori collaborated with Maysoon Pachachi on a project called Open Shutters Iraq.