This Film Sparked a Comeback For Iraqi Cinema

Mohamed al-Daradji’s The Journey makes history

Set in 2006 Baghdad, The Journey, unfolds just after a young woman named Sara removes her hijab as she enters Baghdad Central Station. The film takes place the day of its reopening after being closed amidst the turmoil of the Iraqi war that began three years earlier. 

But unlike the travelers, military, and police there, Sara went with explosives wrapped around her to carry out a deadly plan. Directed by Mohamed Al-Daradji, the drama acts a guide of sorts, taking you through the process of a decision so unthinkable. 

Somehow, Al-Daradji manages to humanize the moment, taking you on a journey, when a simple interaction becomes a savior of sorts. Beautifully shot and narrated, it’s no surprise that the film became the first to be commercially screened in Iraq in 27 years, signaling a revival in the Iraqi cinema scene that has remained dormant since the 1991 uprisings. 

Before screening in Al-Daradji’s native, the film had its debut at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017. Since then, the film has received endless critical acclaim. Daradji, who is renowned for his politically charged movies, two of which have taken him to the Academy Awards, will now head to the Oscars for the third time as part of the Iraq selection for Best Foreign Language Film. 

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