Iraqi director Albaqer Jaafar takes a very deep and personal journey that not only traces the demise of the cinema of a war-torn Baghdad and his desire to make something of his life but also grants Nassif Falak one last wish to finally make his debut on the cinema screen.

Jafaar’s documentary is not only inspired by Falak’s love for the cinema, and actor Steve McQueen in particular, but also by Falak’s novel.  Focusing on the story of the 65-year-old ex-Iraqi soldier, Falak absconded from Iraq’s mandatory military service when he was younger. Trying to flee the country by forging passports and failing, he finally found a haven in a cinema. With McQueen’s Papillon turning on the projector daily, Falak’s love for the actor and his desire to become an actor only intensified.

Told through the eyes of Jafaar and crudely put together –  which only adds a sense of loss and desperation for a better life to the doc – the director takes us through today’s streets of the city once under the cruel reign of Saddam Hussein. The derelict cinema stands empty and alone in amongst a street that is now lined with shops and stalls selling military paraphernalia.  A tour inside the cinema not only brings back emotional memories for Nassif but reveals a ghost town filled with movie posters from the 70s, still intact on the walls, while everything around them is significantly crumbling away.

At only 75 minutes, the poignancy levels are on high alert; Jafaar questions life within the country and ponders what will become of the Film industry, not only for his generation but that of the future generations to come. It’s humbling to see people struggling from day to day in a country ravaged by war with no hope in sight for its rejuvenation.

With his directorial debut, Jaafer brings an incredible amount of sensitivity to this documentary, which thankfully gained sponsorship from the Red Sea Film Festival in post-production. Drenched in a sobering light of a neglected country and told through the eyes of two film lovers on the search for a copy of Papillion, our eyes are opened to the desolate realities of the forgotten.

Take Me To The Cinema
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Features and News Writer at HeyUGuys, Once failed wannabe actress, Ex-music industry veteran who once dabbled in Artist Management, and now Film Journalist extraordinaire. My love for the arts has seen my fingers in many pies but my love of Film won the battle. Current work credits include Film Journalist/Writer at HeyUGuys, Film Editor at Flavourmag, London Live's London Film Club and DIY Magazine. Previous work credits contributor at The Voice Newspaper, FlickFeast, MyFilmClub and film review slot on radio.