Our River…Our Sky by director Maysoon Pachachi will have its world premiere at Sarajevo Film Festival (August 13-20).
The Baghdad-set stories highlighted in the film will be screened on August 19 as part of a special program supported by Robert Bosch Foundation (Germany) entitled “Dealing with the Past”.
Founded in 1995, during a wartime siege of the city, Sarajevo Film Festival has since aimed to contribute to the reconstruction of civil society in the country and is now the leading film festival of South-Eastern Europe. The program “Dealing with the Past” aims to initiate dialogue across political divides.
The narrative in Our River…Our Sky (aka Kulshi Makoo in Arabic) is set against a backdrop of sectarian violence in the last week of 2006, between Christmas and the Muslim Eid. It tells the stories of ordinary Baghdadis trying to live their everyday lives despite unpredictable events, which put them in peril.
At the heart of the multi-character narrative is SARA, a single mother and novelist, who has lost her will to write in the face of unspeakable violence. Shortly before the New Year, following unexpected news, Sara and her neighbors brace themselves for an uncertain future while trying to sustain a fragile sense of hope.
Our River…Our Sky won the $100,000 IWC Filmmaker Award at Dubai International Film Festival and was written by Pachachi in collaboration with her Baghdad-based co-writer Irada Al-Jubori. The film was initially presented at the Producers Network in Carthage and later supported by prominent institutions in the Middle East, including Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), Abu Dhabi Music & Art Foundation and Doha Film Institute.
The film was supported in Europe by Eurimages, CNC, Visions Sud Est and British Film Institute, amongst others, and was awarded The Cell Post Production award at Malmo Arab Film Festival Market Forum in 2020.
The cast includes Darina Al Joundi (as Sara), Basim Hajar, Labwa Arab, Meriam Abbas, Zainab Joda, Badia Obaid and renowned Iraqi actor Mahmoud Abo Al Abbas. The production was initially developed by Oxymoron Films (UK) and Linked Productions (Kuwait) and made in coproduction with its other main producers Les Contes Modernes (France) and Neue Mediopolis Filmproduktion (Germany). MAD Solutions handles Arab world sales.
Maysoon Pachachi is a London-based filmmaker of Iraqi origin who studied philosophy at University College London and attended 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 films – some of which were broadcast on Channel 4 in the U.K. and ZDF in Germany – include Iranian Journey (2000), Return to the Land of Wonders (2004) and Our Feelings Took the Pictures: Open Shutters Iraq (2008). Open Shutters received a Jury Special Mention at Arab Film Festival Rotterdam and also led to the publication of a book and photographic exhibition of the same name.
In 2004, with her colleague Kasim Abid, she co-founded the Independent Film and Television College, a free-of-charge film-training center in Baghdad, whose students produced 17 short documentaries that were selected in regional and international film festivals.