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DDocumentary Feature Competition

In My Mother's Arms

In My Mother's Arms

Original Title: Fi Ahdan Ummi
Director: Atia Jabarah Al-DaradjiMohamed Al Daradji
Iraq, United Kingdom, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates | Arabic
2011 | 89min. | Colour
Subtitles: English
Format: DCP
All Ages
Sadr City, in suburban Baghdad, has had its fair share of morbid notoriety. Since the fall of Saddam’s regime, the poverty-stricken district has been featured in the news because of explosions or armed clashes that claim civilian lives. In My Mother’s Arms is a documentary about an unlikely house there, where young victims of violence are given a new lease on life.

The invasion of Iraq has left thousands of children homeless. When he discovered the abysmal horrors in government-run orphanages in Baghdad, Husham, a citizen in his late thirties, established a makeshift foster home on his own. In 2009, Mohamed Al Daradji and his brother, Atia, had just wrapped production on Son of Babylon in Baghdad when they learned of Husham’s herculean mission. In many ways, it seemed to embody the predicament of the country. Bound by a shared sorrow of facing life without the love and stability of a family, the orphaned boys seemed like a microcosm of Iraq’s ethnic, cultural, religious and class mosaic.

The two brothers set up their cameras and filmed the daily routine of the house for nine months –the uncanny kinship between the boys, humble moments of playfulness, squabbling and coping. But when the landlord raises the rent, Husham and his troupe face the prospect of eviction. To distract from that frightful prospect, the boys stage a musical performance, giving voice to their longing for the embrace of a mother’s unconditional love, what they hunger for most.

–Rasha Salti

Director,  Atia Jabarah Al-Daradji, 

Director,  Atia Jabarah Al-Daradji

Atia Jabarah Al Daradji was born in Baghdad. He graduated from the Final Art Academy in Hilversum, the Netherlands. After Saddam Hussein’s regime was overturned in 2003, he returned to Iraq to produce Ahlaam (2005) with his brother Mohamed directing. Their follow-up feature Son of Babylon (2009) premiered at ADFF and won two prizes at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2010. In My Mother’s Arms marks Atia’s first time in the co-director’s chair. The film was funded in part by ADFF’s SANAD program.

Mohamed Al Daradji

Mohamed Al Daradji

Mohamed Jabarah Al Daradji, acclaimed filmmaker from Iraq, completed his master’s at the Northern Film School, Leeds, where he won the prestigious Kodak Student Award. His debut feature Ahlaam (2006) screened at more than 125 film festivals winning more than 20 awards.

Cast and Crew

Atia Jabarah Al Daradji, Mohamed Jabarah Al Daradji
With: Saif Silah Husham, Mohamed Waael Naeem Al Ghezzi, Husham La Dhabe, Salah Abass Husham
Production Company
Human Film/Iraq Al Rafidain
Isabelle Stead, Atia Al Daradji, Mohamed Al Daradji
Foreign Right Sales
Human Film
Atia Al Daradji, Mohamed Jabarah Al Daradji
Mohamed Jabara, Ian Watson
Glen Freemantle
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