“Reel Iraq”: culture stops for no war

March 3, 2013 00:01 0 comments

From the 21st to the 25th of March, this London festival hosts a number of activities showcasing Iraq’s cultural development during the conflict that began in 2003.

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Reel Irak La guerra  5March 20th marks 10 years since the US and UK led military invasion of the South-East Asian country.

The justification given by then US President George W. Bush was the claim that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, violating the convention signed in 1991.

America and world then believed that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States, its citizens and interests, and the interests of the West in general. As such, he had the support Tony Blair’s government.

Reel Irak La guerra no 25Military intervention led to the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein, as well as the infamous toppling of his statue in Firdos Square, his capture and subsequent execution in December 2006.

According to sources, around one million people died in this conflict. However, the war also led to a humanitarian crisis, resulting in the relocation of refugees and extreme malnutrition in the country, to name but a few consequences.

Reel Irak La guerra no 26Despite the war’s official end in December 2011, violence in Iraq remains one of the country’s main problems, combined with facts like 75% of children have left education, leaving them exposed to prostitution and slave labour, the relocation of over 1.5 million Iraqis and the resulting trauma that causes war.

However, despite the humanitarian catastrophes that led to the intervention, cultural development in Iraq did not slow down; quite the contrary. Art, literature and music, among other fields, have proved to be the most effective form of protest for many, and a means of escape for others.

Reel Irak La guerra no 27Iraq is home to one of the world’s earliest civilizations, the Mesopotamians, who carry culture and creativity in their very DNA. Therefore, the discomfort and pain caused by years of conflict, civil war and international attacks have generated a huge resistance which artists have chosen to demonstrate through culture.

The Reel Iraq Festival, organised for the 21st to the 25th of March in several cities across the UK, will be hosting events such as presentations, exhibitions, film screenings, debates and concerts, under the theme of “Art and Culture, Resilience and Diversity, Iraq, 10 years after the invasion.”

Reel Irak La guerra  11One show, “Geographies of War”, portrays different perspectives and representations of the spaces, territories and landscapes of Iraq, whereas “Mona Chalabi: Photographs by Numbers”, shows images of people formed by war statistics.

Cinema also plays an important role during the festival, with shows such as “Iraq Through a Lens: A Projection of Short Films”, which includes: “Fire Won’t Eat Me Up” by Roxana Vilk; “The Shoemaker” by Ahd Kamel; “A Photographer’s Memories” by Tha’ir Khalid; “One Shot” by Hawre Bahjat; and “Cassette” by Malak Abd Ali.

Reel Irak La guerra no 24Similarly, music will also have its space during the festival, thanks to Leila Albayaty, musician Khyam Allami and the band City of Salt, who link Middle Eastern traditions with jazz sounds.

However, some of the most interesting activities will be conferences: “The Invasion of Iraq: Two Panel Discussions on Art and Politics”, with the participation of analysts, historians, journalists and artists, all of whom will discuss the festival’s theme.

Date: 21-25 March, 2013. For more information, please visit the website: http://www.reelfestivals.org/

 

(Translated by Marie-Thérèse Slorach – Email: marietherese.slorach@gmail.com)

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