Development Feature Narrative Film Projects
Iraq, United Kingdom, Sweden \ Arabic \ 90 min
Director: Ahmed Yassin
Producer: Huda Al Kadhimi, Margaret Glover, Shaker K. Tahrer
Six days a week Taha (27) and As’ad (10) rise with the first call to prayer and head for Hanging Gardens – a multi-coloured mash-up of an environmental disaster. While Taha searches for scrap metal to sell by weight, As’ad chases after the US Embassy trucks, with their higher grade of trash. Then one day, As’ad uncovers a one-legged American sex doll, takes her home, washes and clothes her.
When As’ad presents the talking doll to his brother as a thing of beauty, Taha assaults his little brother with a violence that shocks them both. As’ad takes his ‘taboo trash back where he found it’ and creates a home for them inside an abandoned armoured personnel carrier (APC).
It’s not so easy to disappear in a world where individual choices are the whole community’s business. A young entrepreneur immediately spots the doll’s potential and convinces As’ad it’s his duty to offer this virus-free entertain to local boys. It’s not long before the local patriarch gets wind of this unwelcome addition to his closely patrolled community. Caught between his peers’ exploitation and the patriarch’s fundamentalism, As’ad takes the doll out of circulation and begins to humanise her. He names her Salwah, which translates as both comfort and salvation.
As’ad’s refusal to live by other people’s rules further enrages the community. Juma’a gives his blessing for Amir’s boys to torch the APC. As’ad escapes and buries his treasure with the epitaph, ‘Here lies As’ad’s Salwah; abused by many, loved by one.’
Iraqi writer-director Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji is an alumnus of Berlinale Talents 2018 and London Film School, where he received an MA with distinction for ‘Children of God’ (2013), a multi-award-winning short set in the same Baghdad community as his debut feature, Hanging Gardens. In 2015, Ahmed began work on a feature documentary, Servant of Baghdad, which received development support through Greenhouse Film Centre. UK-based ‘Stray’ (2016) premiered at London’s East End Film Festival and went on to have a successful festival run. Hanging Gardens was selected for RAWI Screenwriters’ Lab and Med Film Factory in 2017, was short-listed for a development award at El Gouna Film Festival 2018 and at Malmo Arab Film Festival Market Forum 2020.
Huda Al Kadhimi:
Huda is an active Iraqi film producer who works in the film industry in 2017. She started her journey in cinema attending workshops from 2006 to 2013 at the Royal Film Commission in Jordan, after which she joined the Iraqi Independent Film Center in Baghdad, working for and with them for the next five years. She gained significant experience as an Assistant Director of many films and Line Producer. She founded Ishtar Iraq Film Production Company in Iraq and Jordan, aiming to support local talents and reflect the reality of the Arab World in its projects.
Margaret’s career spans theatre, film and television as dramaturg, script editor, writer and producer. Recent credits include story consultant on two artist filmmaker feature-length creative documentaries and executive producer on a range of debut features, which have travelled the international festival circuit, winning awards along the way.
Shaker K Tahrer:
Shaker K Tahrer has previously written, directed, and produced the following short films: My Father Doesn’t Cry (Min pappa gråter inte) and Soccer-player at Midnight. The films have competed in several major European film festivals such as: French Clermont-Ferrand, German Dresden Film Festival, Copenhagen Film Festival, and others and have also been shown on the Swedish National Television (SVT) several times.
Shaker’s most recent film is a full-length feature film called Damn Boys (Jävla pojkar) which had its Swedish premiere in April 2012. Shaker wrote the film score/script, directed and produced it and it has competed and been shown at several major film festivals around the world such as: Montreal World Film Festival, Sao Paulo International Film Festival, Bangaluru International Film Festival, Zlín International Film Festival, Bangkok International Film Festival och Brussels Film Festival where the film won the prize for best original score/script with, among others, Peter Greenaway in the jury. The film has also been shown on the Swedish National Television (SVT).
Shaker K Tahrer is educated studied Directing at the Film Academy in Gothenburg Sweden as well as Film Score/Script Composition at Film in WEST (Film I Väst) in Trollhättan Sweden.